George Saunders shares his thoughts on writing his first full-length novel, the forthcoming Lincoln in the Bardo. As he puts it, “It’s like when you’re writing your first book, and you’re trying to figure out what kind of writer you are. This was like that.” Pair with our own Elizabeth Minkel’s piece on Saunders and the question of literary greatness.
This week Margaret Atwood tweeted a photo of her and Alice Munro drinking champagne in a “secret lair.” There’s no denying it — technology has changed the way we tell stories. Atwood and 16 other writers, from Victor LaValle to Lee Child, discussed how technology influences their work in The New York Times. “There’s nothing worse for plots than cellphones. Once your characters have one, there’s no reason for them to get lost or stranded,” Rainbow Rowell said.
In Zadie Smith’s introduction to the Writers Bloc series, she writes that the program sought essays “that were not only pious, charitable or analytical but also readable, engaging, exciting.” The essays published by Guernica certainly meet this criteria. I particularly recommend Aleksandar Hemon’s essay on first graders in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“If culture is purely entertainment, nothing is of importance. If it’s a matter of amusement, an impostor can undoubtedly amuse me more than a profoundly authentic person. But if culture signifies more than this, then it’s worrying.” Sociologist Gilles Lipovetsky interviews the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa about the contemporary collapse between “high” and “low” cultures.
This Sunday, come out to the KGB Bar and meet The Millions! A pile of staffers including C. Max Magee, Garth Risk Hallberg, Emily St. John Mandel, Sonya Chung, and yours truly will be there, and a good number of them will be reading their work. The event even ends by nine, so you can rush home to see Mad Men.
Infographic of the Week: Famous authors had day jobs, too. Check out this infographic from Adzuna to find out what J.M. Coetzee, George R.R. Martin, J. K. Rowling, and more did before (or while) they published novels. Our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about the struggle to balance a day job and a creative life.
My inner dramatist will have a debut outing at Sweet: Actors Reading Writers, Thurs. 12/2 at 7:30 pm, Three of Cups (First Ave at 5th Street, NYC). Actor Tonya Edmonds will perform an excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Sebastian & Frederick. Other featured writers: Ed Park, Amanda Filipacchi, Jonathan Dixon, Maya Pindyck.