“I realize that, like most fantasies, reality is likely to be more complicated. For starters, literary communities—like most communities—have echelons. They have cliques; they have ghettos. You are the wrong age, work in the wrong genre, don’t know the right people, don’t teach at the same program … Anyone who thinks this isn’t true is someone squarely at the center of his or her chosen circle.” On peripherality and the uncertain nature of literary community.
Want to make your writing more dramatic? Try using a typewriter. Tom Hanks professes his love for typewriters in The New York Times. "Everything you type on a typewriter sounds grand, the words forming in mini-explosions of SHOOK SHOOK SHOOK. A thank-you note resonates with the same heft as a literary masterpiece," he writes. Pair with: A St. Louis man placed typewriters around the city in hopes that residents will share their stories.
"A vast human action is going on. Death watches. So if you have some happiness, conceal it. And when your heart is full, keep your mouth shut also." Saul Bellow saw a bit of resurgence this year with the publication of his collected non-fiction, There Is Simply Too Much to Say. Why do we need him now more than ever? According to Michael Weiss at The Daily Beast, it's because he has "a bit of the opposition in him." This essay is exhaustive and thoroughly researched and well worth your time.
Paris Review editor Lorin Stein was interviewed for Days of Yore. Topics include: the “perverse power” of editing your parents’ work; his rise through the ranks of NYC publishing; and the new story collection, Object Lessons. Elsewhere you can check out his “five favorite short story collections.” And, in case you missed it, be sure to check out our own Bill Morris’s interview with Paris Review deputy editor Sadie Stein (no relation) about the Object Lessons collection as well.
By now the overlap between writers and drug addicts is pretty well-known, but it wasn’t so well-known back when Thomas De Quincey wrote Confessions of an English Opium Eater. In the essay, De Quincey admitted that not only was he addicted to opium, he suspected he’d ingested more of the substance than any other man save Coleridge. (Incidentally, we reviewed a novel by Year in Reading alumnus Jeet Thayil that largely took place in an opium den.)
JW McCormack has some Notes Toward [A Potential] Film Adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 up at The American Reader. As somebody who can’t even fathom making Cormac McCarthy’s decidedly less brutal (although still unimaginably brutal in its own way) Blood Meridian into a film, let me tell you: the idea of turning 2666 into a theater-ready motion picture seems impossible. (P.S. You really should just read both of those books…)