“I almost understand why God laid this affliction on him.” A new piece of fiction by Annie Proulx is always worth a read. Fun fact: there was a time in her career when Proulx had to pretend she was a man in order to be published.
“The purpose of being a serious writer is not to express oneself, and it is not to make something beautiful, though one might do those things anyway. Those things are beside the point. The purpose of being a serious writer is to keep people from despair. If you keep that in mind always, the wish to make something beautiful or smart looks slight and vain in comparison. If people read your work and, as a result, choose life, then you are doing your job.” Year in Reading alumna Sarah Manguso on envy and the purpose of writing. Pair with Jaime Green’s Millions review of Manguso’s Ongoingness.
As literary genres go, bathroom graffiti ranks somewhere between obscenities carved into desks and poorly spelled comments in terms of respectability. Yet it’s still a form that could reveal interesting things, which is why a group of researchers took a series of fact-finding trips to public stalls across America. Their takeaway? “The mere fact of being in a public bathroom could be skewing how people choose to present themselves when they uncap that Sharpie.” Related: Buzz Poole on The History of American Graffiti.