“Writing about film applies pressure to how ekphrastic writing can be possible, let alone evocative–and further, highlights questions that pertain to all kinds of writing, from honing poetic imagery to composing entire fictive worlds: how can writing engage or transform the fidelity of its subject(s)? How do you write about something so simultaneously ephemeral and fabricated, and yet intuitively, enduringly ‘real’?” For Ploughshares, Veronica Fitzpatrick on writing about film. Pair with this Millions piece on literary magazines in film and TV.
Want a write a great short story? Here’s a chance to learn from MacArthur Fellow, New Yorker “20 Under 40” writer, and Year in Reading alum Yiyun Li. Her new 45-minute Skillshare class, Writing Character-Driven Short Stories, is now available and included with Skillshare membership ($10 per month). Better yet: the first 50 readers of The Millions to click here can sign up for free.
Los Angeles Review of Books managing editor Evan Kindley reviews Michael Szalay’s Hip Figures: A Literary History of the Democratic Party, and says it “reminds us of a time, not long ago, when literary intellectuals set great store by mainstream political parties, and vice versa.”
Jeopardy! champion, Maphead author, and all-around puzzle whiz Ken Jennings has devised a month-long “Great American History Puzzle,” and the grand prize winner will receive a free trip to Washington D.C., as well as a “Secrets of the Smithsonian” tour no doubt reminiscent of touring the back room at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie.
“The Chinese people are on high alert that criticism of the government, independent thinking, and challenges to official narratives are dangerous.” PEN America has published “Writing on the Wall,” a report about the disappearance, late last year, of five Hong Kong booksellers. Only four of the five men have been released from Chinese custody.
It’s a catchy idea: two rich Philadelphians, shut out of their family fortune, decide to gain new wealth by proving the existence of the Loch Ness monster. It’s the plot of At the Water’s Edge, the new book by Water for Elephants author Sara Gruen. Robert J. Wiersema reviewed the book in The Globe and Mail. Sample quote: “In most families, fleeing to Scotland to prove the existence of the Loch Ness monster would seem an odd thing to do in order to expiate a social faux pas and redeem the family honour, but the Hydes aren’t most families.”
At the Southern Review of Books, Justin Evans reflects on Breece D’J Pancake‘s celebrated collection of short stories from 1984, published five years after his death. “The stories of Breece D’J Pancake, by their own merit, are remarkably tied to the rural home of their author,” Evans writes. “Unfortunately, they are also tied to the author’s absence. Honestly, it’s tempting to romanticize this collection of fiction. I still have a copy of the 2002 edition that I stayed up all night reading sometime around 6 years ago. There was something about the scale of history and place against the scale of the individual, about the mix of gravity and triviality in grief that I found energizing at a time when most of my day went to physical labor.”