“When, like Alice Munro, you feel your way forward, sniffing and digging and groping toward a truth virtually beyond words, it takes a long time. And the structures, organic to that process, are as miraculous and indicative and expressive of that truth—one of the deeper truths of human life—that fiction is all about.” Elizabeth Poliner explains how mapping Alice Munro’s stories made her a better writer. Never read Munro? Check out our beginner’s guide to her stories.
Oh, ghostwriter: that poorly-paid name snuck into the “Acknowledgements” section somewhere after agent’s agent and ex-wife’s third cousin. In the middle ground between Michael D’Orso, who spoke to The Millions of job satisfaction as a hired pen, and Sari Botton, whose reminisces are full of horror stories, Andrew Croft, author of 80 books that sold 10M copies under other people’s names, offers a circumspect take in his Guardian profile. “The ghost is advised never to forget that, at the end of the day, he or she ranks somewhere between a valet and a cleaner.”
In 1908, Leo Tolstoy sent “A Letter to a Hindu” to Tarak Nath Das, a leader of the Indian freedom movement. In it, Tolstoy made the case for nonviolent resistance as the only way for India to gain independence from Britain. You can read the letter, along with Mohandas Gandhi’s introduction, over here.
“But we are lured into believing that the first person is the manifestation of an authentic self. Or: we fall for the first person because we feel so little coherence in our own internal lives, and immersing ourselves in a sustained first person narrative gives us the false reassurance of an illusion.”
In the New York Times, Mokoto Rich highlights the superfluousness of book covers in the digital age and the marketing challenges that result. cf. “Ether Between the Covers: Gifting Books in a Digital Age.”