When John Steinbeck wasn't busy writing 600-page novels, he might have been a Cold War CIA spy. In 1952, Steinbeck approached the CIA and suggested he could do some spying on an upcoming European trip. "The pace and method of my junket together with my intention of talking with great numbers of people of all classes may offer peculiar advantages," he wrote to an agent.
On his podcast, David Naimon spoke with poet Morgan Parker about her new collection, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé. It's a book "at the intersections of mythology and sorrow, of vulnerability and posturing, of desire and disgust, of tragedy and excellence," Naimon says. (Bonus: Parker's book was recently featured in Nick Ripatrazone's list of five poetry collections you should buy.)
"Because at the end of the day, there is no magic solution, no short-cut, to writing something that hopefully will last. No matter how we search for one." Jeff VanderMeer gives eight writing tips for aspiring writers in the Chicago Review of Books. See also: VanderMeer's prolific 2017 Year in Reading entry.
It looks like Jonathan Safran Foer will be publishing his first novel in eleven years next fall. The book, tentatively titled Here I Am, is the story of an American Jewish family, set against a background of traumatic events in the Middle East including earthquakes and an invasion of Israel. Foer’s last novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, enjoyed tremendous critical and commercial success. Here’s a piece on JSF’s crazy, confusing, die-cut book Tree of Codes.
Franz Kafka liked to drink milk as he wrote. Walt Whitman liked a breakfast of cold meat and oysters. Marcel Proust was an espresso addict. This info graphic from The New York Times raises the question: what do you snack on as you write? You might also want to snack as you read that article, so check out our own Lydia Kiesling's piece from last April.