“0.5 hrs: Read this week’s New Yorker fiction. 0.7 hrs: Hated on New Yorker writer with her derivative characters & mise-en-scenes. 0.1 hrs: Looked up ‘mise-en-scene’ on Wikipedia. 1.3 hrs: Phone call with writer friend; discussed how much New Yorker fiction sucks. 0.5 hrs: Drafted & emailed query letter to New Yorker (for super postmodern story).” The good people at McSweeney’s imagine an impossibly tedious world where writers and poets bill by the hour.
Fans of Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, often know that he had an earlier career as an ad agency illustrator, but how many of them know he was also an amateur taxidermist? “His father, superintendent of parks in Springfield, Mass., occasionally sent him antlers, bills and horns from deceased zoo animals,” reports NPR, elements that Geisel then integrated into fantastical wall sculptures.
“If the sentences are meticulously made, I’ll read anything, whether it’s as destabilizing as a Gary Lutz short story or as melancholy as a Chris Ware comic. The only books I give up on are texts where the writer’s attention is concentrated so heavily on narrative questions that his or her use of language becomes careless.” Anthony Doerr, whose All The Light We Cannot See won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, discusses genre, Calvin and Hobbes, and the 2,080 books he still wants to read as part of the New York Times Book Review‘s By the Book series.
A very big week for new books: See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid; My Brother’s Book, the last book completed by Maurice Sendak before his death in May 2012; How Literature Saved My Life by David Shields; The City of Devi by Manil Suri; a new edition of Breakfast at Tiffany’s & Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote; The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne (see our interview today); P. G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters; Wise Men by Stuart Nadler; debut novels Autobiography of Us by Aria Beth Sloss and Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer; City of Angels, an autobiographical novel by Christa Wolf; and House of Earth, the lost novel of Woody Guthrie.
We’re pleased to announce a new feature here on The Millions, “Ask the Writing Teacher.” Our own Edan Lepucki will now be taking your questions about all things writing related, dialogue, plot, point of view, or other elements of writing that might be putting a pickle in your prose. Send your questions her way at askthewritingteacher[at]gmail[dot]com