Our own Lydia Kiesling writes for The New Yorker about workplace fiction by women. As she puts it, “If the author is a woman, workplace fiction is also domestic fiction, easily disguised as ‘chick lit,’ ‘girlfriend literature,’ or even ‘erotica.’ Regardless of the packaging, these books provide mapping, contextualizing, and rich illustration of women’s working lives.” For more of her writing, check out her essay on the San Francisco housing market for The Millions.
Colson Whitehead has some advice: write the book that "scares you shitless." In a recent, wide-ranging interview with John Freeman, the Underground Railroad author talks about why he wrote his latest novel, along with his methods for sussing out good ideas. You could also read our review of The Underground Railroad.
In random-but-awesome news, Geoff Manaugh's BLDGBLOG reports on a new project by Dutch earth scientists to piece together what they're calling an "atlas of the underworld." Using CT scans to visualize "invisible landscape features—the ghostly remains of entire continents—hidden inside the planet," the project will reveal a surface within earth's surface. See also: our review of Where You Are, an anthology of sixteen alternative maps by a range of artists and writers including Geoff Dyer, Valeria Luiselli, and Leanne Shapton.
“In Rilke’s essay on Auguste Rodin, written in the same year, he describes the sculptor’s visits to the Jardin des Plantes early in the morning to sketch the sleepy animals. And later on, in Rodin’s studio on the Rue de l’Université, he observes a tiny plaster cast of an antique tiger that Rodin treasured: ‘There is a cast of a panther, of Greek workmanship, hardly as big as a hand…. If you look from the front under its body into the space formed by the four powerful soft paws, you seem to be looking into the depths of an Indian stone temple; so huge and all-inclusive does this work become.’” Henri Cole on the poet and a place that inspired his work.
Lord Byron is perhaps our most prominent example of an extravagant writer in a bygone age. There’s a reason his antics earned him a popular adjective. However, he’s not the only writer from long ago to live large, as made clear in this New Yorker piece by Elizabeth Kolbert -- inspired by the release of two new biographies -- that deals with the up-and-down life and reputation of Seneca. Sample quote: “Seneca’s fortune made possible a life style that was lavish by Roman or, for that matter, Hollywood standards.”