“I couldn’t put the books down. Now that so many of us complain of diminished attention spans— our own as well as our companions’—it’s worth asking what has made millions of readers willing to suspend their disbelief—to suspend their selves—for thousands of pages.” Why have so many people gone gaga for Ferrante and Knausgaard? We have our own theories as well.
On the heels of a New Mexico school district banning Neverwhere because a mother considered it “R-rated,” Neil Gaiman delivered a lecture for the Reading Agency about the importance of libraries and reading for children. “It’s tosh. It’s snobbery and it’s foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different,” he said about banning books.
In 1980, Julio Cortázar gave a series of lectures at Berkeley, which you can now read in the slim, simply-titled volume Literature Class. Among the highlights? This sentence: “I had lived with a complete feeling of familiarity with the fantastic because it seemed as acceptable to me, as possible and as real, as the fact of eating soup at eight o’clock in the evening.”
This fall the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program is offering a free, 7-session live online Advanced Fiction Seminar. The course will run from September 16 through October 28, and it will be taught by fiction writer Nate Brown. Best of all? It’s open to anyone with an internet connection. Applications are due September 6th.
Sometimes, when you read a lot of work by a single writer, you end up writing unconscious imitations of their work. The reliability of this effect raises an ourobouric possibility: what if you reviewed a writer’s fiction in their own style? At The Awl, Sarah Marian Seltzer reviews Henry James as Henry James. You could also read Charles-Adam Foster-Simard on binge-reading James’s fiction.