Tony Tulathimutte offers advice on lowering word count: Merge scenes, murder characters, quit writing altogether: “merge scenes, murder characters, ‘start as close to the end as possible’ (Kurt Vonnegut), quit writing altogether.” Pair with this Millions piece on writing slowly and by hand.
What is the greatest crime in literary history? Depending on who you ask, it was probably the burning of Byron’s memoirs. Shortly after his death, three of Byron’s closest friends, along with a few attorneys representing family interests, decided that the memoirs were too scandalous to publish and thus tossed them bit by bit into a fireplace. They claim to have been acting in his best interest, and, as Byron himself said, “There is no instinct like that of the heart.”
Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; “The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to ‘fully narrate her own autobiography,’ as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world.” In the New Yorker
For San Francisco readers: There’s a new show of huge, surreal paper mache animal sculptures up at The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (December 4-17th). These paper beasts, featured in the San Francisco Symphony’s performance of Camille Saint-Saens “Carnival of the Animals” and created by local artist Colette Crutcher and her students, will be auctioned off to benefit the MCCLA at a party open to the public on December 17th.
Recommended Reading: Dean Young’s poem “Why I Haven’t ‘Outgrown Surrealism,’ No Matter What That Moron Reviewer Wrote” for Plume.