“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.
Sean Manning (of Talking Covers) hosted a discussion with Jonathan Lethem last week at LA’s Last Bookstore. You can check out video and audio of the event over here, and the post also features an exclusive glimpse at the cover art for Lethem’s forthcoming novel Dissident Gardens. (Bonus: a look at Dissident Gardens in our Great 2013 Book Preview.)
One Siberian city is offering free subway rides to passengers who can recite “at least two verses from any poem by Alexander Pushkin.” The obvious corollary would be NJ Transit providing free service to passengers capable of singing “Born to Run” in its entirety.
“The repetitions, the ellipses, the onomatopoeia: All the markers of Wolfe’s stylistic DNA were adaptive mutations to a competitive climate, search-engine optimization for the typewriter age.” Here’s an interview with Tom Wolfe about his new novel, Back to Blood, which is receiving mixed reviews.