It’s not always a given that good people make good characters. Over at The Atlantic, Tony Tulathimutte explains how none other than one Philip Roth taught him the importance of showing every aspect of your characters–even the bad ones. Here’s an older piece from the same series in which Paul Lisicky writes about Flannery O’Connor and her “flawed characters.”
If you’ve ever heard that literary skill is synonymous with a good memory, you’ve likely bemoaned your own forgetfulness, especially when it comes to important things. Tim Parks felt the same way, until he read a new book on forgetting, which led him to wonder how much knowledge we can retain. In The New York Review of Books, he tackles the paradox of the reader’s memory. You could also read our own Mark O’Connell’s review of Parks’s book Italian Ways.
“When we read a book that requires that effort — when the act of reading becomes rigorous and self-aware, rather than effortless and transparent — we get to have a history with what we’ve given ourselves to, a history etched into us by the demanding friction of its difficulty.” Zoë Heller and Leslie Jamison debate whether or not we overvalue difficult literature in The New York Times.