“We can work harder to mourn, get better at it, connect it better to how we live, how we care for people, how we educate people. It’s politics, for me.” ZYZZYVA interviews Max Porter about his Grief Is the Thing with Feathers. Pair with Lidia Yuknavitch’s Millions essay on grief and art.
Measuring a writer’s success is tricky. An author might make The New York Times Bestseller List now but only be a footnote in an encyclopedia a century later. At The Guardian, D.J. Taylor wonders what contributes to a writer’s posterity and concludes a pushy publisher or sponsor is often a writer’s best asset. Pair with: Our essay on how John Updike fans attempt to maintain his reputation.
Who was it that came up with the idea that a million monkeys in front of a million typewriters would eventually, with their random keyboard smashing, type William Shakespeare’s complete works? Well, you can give the experiment a try here (link from the CC). And while you’re waiting for your monkeys to finish typing Love’s Labor’s Lost, check out some book excerpts I found:Heir to the Glimmering World by Cynthia Ozick — excerpt, NYT review, SF Chronicle reviewChain of Command by Seymour Hersh — excerpt, CS Monitor reviewThe Double by Jose Saramago — excerpt, NZ Herald reviewThe Fall Of Baghdad by Jon Lee Anderson — excerpt, WaPo review
Recommended reading: Sara Polsky writes for the New Yorker about “The Detective Novel That Convinced a Generation Richard III Wasn’t Evil.”
“Does handwriting matter?” That’s the question some researchers are working to answer and that Maria Konnikova tackles in a piece for The New York Times. The article ends by suggesting that “with handwriting, the very act of putting it down forces you to focus on what’s important… maybe it helps you think better,” which is doubtlessly encouraging to every writer who works on their drafts in longhand.
“No one was more grimly adamant that the world was in mortal peril, or had more fun trying to save it from itself.” Over at The New Yorker‘s Page Turner blog, Alexandra Schwartz considers the life and work of Grace Paley, noting that Paley’s slim output “is a great shame, if not so surprising. Activism, like alcoholism, can distract a writer from the demands of her desk.” Also of note: this tribute to Paley that our own Garth Risk Hallberg wrote upon her death in 2007.
An Iranian opposition leader said Gabriel García Márquez’s News of a Kidnapping accurately reflected his life under house arrest. As a result, the book is flying off the shelves in Tehran. But why do you think Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is so big in the UK?