“I used to run cross country in high school and it was like, I knew if I put in a certain kind of training, it was going to make me faster. If X, then Y. But with writing, it’s like, if X, if I do this thing that’s necessary, which is giving myself the space and time, then what? It’s sort of a question mark. You have no idea. You work so hard to offer yourself up to the space of the unknown.” Leslie Jamison (and Angela Flournoy and Katherine Towler) on being alone and setting aside the time to write.
“Though statements have been issued over the years, no one has ever provided full disclosure of the alleged 1974 government experiment called OPERATION EMU (Experimental Mitigated Universe) during which an entire Hollywood film crew, contracted by the government, disappeared in a remote section of Nevada.” Is this Web site a mysterious government coverup of the ravings of a lunatic? Neither. It’s the marketing campaign of a writer shopping his manuscript. (thanks, R.J.)The University of Nebraska Press has a blog. They’ve been plugging away at the blog since January, but I hadn’t seen it until today, when I got an email about it.New issues of The Virginia Quarterly Review and Narrative Magazine are out.
“To read something before it is accessible to all is both a privilege and an unfair advantage.” Je Banach’s notes on keeping the secrets of the books she writes about (e.g., Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage) are thoughtful, poignant, and tantalizingly spoiler-free.
Somewhat overshadowed by David Simon’s recent op-ed on the state of modern America (if not capitalism itself) was the news that Wendell Pierce – featured prominently in both The Wire and Treme – secured a book deal for his meditation on Hurricane Katrina and “the effect it had on his family, his life, his memory, and his hometown.”
Post-40 Bloomer Daniel Orozco won Stanford’s William Saroyan International Prize for Writing this week. His story collection, Orientation, beat out a murderer’s row of adversaries including Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station and Miroslav Penkov’s East of the West: A Country in Stories. Check out excerpts or stories from all three writers here, here, and here, respectively.
As we noted here recently about the rise and fall of Motown, the real issue was money — who earned it, who kept it, who never saw it. Now Barrett Strong, who co-wrote and sang the Detroit label’s first hit in 1959, “Money (That’s What I Want),” tells The New York Times that he never saw a penny of royalties for a song that became a classic and generated millions of dollars for the label. Strong’s story is the story of Motown boiled down to its bitter, ironic essence.
“An ideal essay is hard to define, but easy to point to. An ideal essay mines the “I” in efforts of high exposition. It is driven by a need to testify or witness, and demands the same of its reader. It is a glimpse of something uncomfortably recognizable, a requiem for the quotidian, a look over the newly-gilded edge.” Samantha Tucker Iacovetto writes about “Defining the Ideal Essay” for Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog