Bonnie Nadzam asks us what should fiction do? “An artistic practice that perpetually reinforces my sense of self is not, in my mind, an artistic practice.”
Recommended Listening: Part One of Jhumpa Lahiri’s conversation with Paul Holdengraber at Lit Hub. “You know, tell me about something I don’t know. Tell me about a musician I’ve never heard of. Tell me about a poet I should be reading. Tell me something about the world, a situation that someone can explain to me in more detail.”
Kirk Curnutt takes readers on a tour of of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s oft-neglected commercial short fiction. Fitzgerald, after all, “produced 160 short stories [in his life],” writes Curnutt, “earning a total of $241,453 off the genre — more than $3 million in today’s dollars.” Yet the author didn’t think highly of the work, and even referred to himself as an “old whore” because he wouldn’t quit.
From the Ruins of Empire author Pankaj Mishra recently visited Japan and wrote about the experience for Caravan. In particular, he was struck by the ways “much of [the country] presents a spectacle of aged modernity,” and how “it is with some shock that you recall that Japan was where once the future lay, before its bubble burst in the early 1990s, and the country, pushed inward by adversity, became a strange absence in our lives.”
“I’m interested in character. I’m especially interested in how language—story, memory, names, word choice—reflects and reveals character. The language of the Catholic Church—the liturgy, the prayer, the gospels—was in many ways my first poetry. ” Year in Reading alumna Alice McDermott discusses her short story, “These Short, Dark Days,” published in the latest The New Yorker.
The Times is reporting that bestselling author Tom Clancy has died. The Baltimore native, who became famous for writing novels (including The Hunt for Red October and The Sum of All Fears) that inspired blockbuster movies, passed away last night in Johns Hopkins Hospital at the age of 66. (His next book, Command Authority, is planned for publication on December 3.)