“The terrible thing is that the reality behind these words depends ultimately on what the human being (meaning every single one of us) believes to be real. The terrible thing is that the reality behind all these words depends on choices one has got to make, for ever and ever and ever, every day.” James Baldwin on the artist’s struggle for “integrity.” Here’s a bonus piece from The Millions on Baldwin, race, and fatherhood.
“We can finally all agree that women want to have sex. But does that mean we experience desire in the same way that men do?” At The Atlantic, Claire Dederer discusses why it can be hard for women to write about sex. Pair with: Our own essay about writing sex scenes in literary fiction.
A big week for books: Zadie Smith’s NW is out (read the first lines), as is Christopher Hitchens’s Mortality, a collection of essays penned while he fought cancer (our essay on Hitchens’ death) (his collection Arguably is out in paperback today). More new books: Emma Straub’s Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Umberto Eco’s essay collection Inventing the Enemy, Davy Rothbart’s essay collection My Heart Is an Idiot, Frederick Seidel’s poetry collection Nice Weather, documentarian Errol Morris’s A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald, and the Navy Seal book about the bin Laden mission. Also, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides is now out in paperback (read Eugenides on the book’s genesis), as is Stephen Greenblatt’s Pulitzer winner The Swerve.
Millions alumna Emily M. Keeler interviewed author David Gilmour for Hazlitt’s Shelf Esteem blog. In the process (and perhaps because he was distracted by “a Frenchman”) the author voiced some opinions on female authors that have been called “ill-informed,” “careless and offensive,” and “staggeringly narrow-minded and parochial.” The ongoing kerfuffle prompted Hazlitt to share the unedited transcript from Keeler’s interview, and it’s clear that Gilmour’s remarks were not taken out of context.
“Magic I think for me is kind of personal. Like, as soon as magic is in play, then I am given permission to imagine a different world, one in which magic things might happen—one where maybe I get some magic to wield if I’m lucky. Where cool stuff might happen at any given moment, cool stuff you wouldn’t even guess at. And for as long as the story holds, I’m kind of living in that world.” John Darnielle talks with Colin Winette about E.R. Eddison‘s The Worm Ouroboros, reading high fantasy and writing Wolf in White Van.