“Though female authors write experimental novels about women—like Renata Adler’s Speedboat or Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be?—the avant-garde has long been associated with male authors and stories. That association made Alexandra Kleeman’s You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine seem doubly unusual.” On Kleeman’s debut novel and blatantly feminine themes in the avant-garde.
If you’re like this writer, you’ve read enough by now about the scourge of writer’s block. The literature on authors having trouble producing literature is enough to sustain a whole genre by itself. Which is why it’s refreshing to read this article, which tackles another problem: the vexing, peculiar strain of overload known as reader’s block.
A newly released Roald Dahl collection, The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets, includes a secret ending to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and excerpts from the author’s hilariously bad report cards. Wrote one teacher about Dahl in 1931: “A persistent muddler. Vocabulary negligible, sentences malconstructed. He reminds me of a camel.” (via Galley Cat)
Ayobami Adebayo is interviewed by Abigail Bereola for Hazlitt and it’s fantastic. They discuss proverbs, romantic love, sickle cell anemia and writing your first book. “At the risk of sounding very narcissistic, I’m going to say I write for myself ultimately. And maybe my sister. I think that when I’m working, it’s very difficult for me to think about an audience, perhaps because sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming. I’m trying to figure out so many things that I really don’t start thinking about the idea that other people might read this thing until, ‘Oh my God, it’s publication day’ and I have a panic attack like ‘Oh my God, what have I done?’ I think the awareness of an audience is something I’m just coming into because this is a first book.”
“Oh, speaking of dust, I am pretty sure I have a dust allergy. A debilitating, truly severe dust allergy. But I can’t dust this place, because I have to leave everything as it was that fateful day, untouched, preserved, still, because I am crazy and should be on disability. Also, between us, you see this place? It has like 30 rooms. I mean, who can clean that?” Miss Havisham (of Great Expectations) has issues with the denial of her disability claim.
“These conversations push Leonard outside his sister’s house and put him on a course complete with time travel, an unreadable ancient text, Jewish Mysticism, and an attractive reference librarian. And here’s where the trouble starts.” On Rachel Cantor’s A Highly Unlikely Scenario.
“I can tell you that it was his agent who thought it was a bad idea, when the book was first published, to have a black hero.” Roald Dahl‘s widow says that he intended for the eponymous hero of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be “a little black boy.” Pair with our own Jacob Lambert‘s fond recollection of reading Dahl to his son.