“I haven’t been able to write since the moment I started thinking I could or should be making money as a writer.” Meritt Tierce with a refreshingly candid piece on writer’s block and how success doesn’t always negative the likelihood of failure.
“[E]ach video is a portrait of the artist as a beginner—and a look at the creative process, in all its joy, abjection, delusion, and euphoria.” The Paris Review has a new video series called “My First Time,” in which big-name authors talk about getting their start. Helen DeWitt, Jeffrey Eugenides, Sheila Heti, a chain-smoking Karl Ove Knausgaard – what more could anyone want? More origin stories, that’s what! Six writers – Colum McCann, Alexander Chee, Jami Attenberg, Emily St. John Mandel, Justin Taylor, and Anthony Marra – look back on their first books for us.
When somebody you’re talking to brings up a writer — say Richard Russo — that you haven’t read, but should have, you probably say you haven’t read them because you “just don’t where to start.” Unfortunately, the folks at Book Riot just published a book, Start Here, that might blow up your excuse.
Back in March, I pointed readers to an interview with Minae Mizumura, whose recent book, The Fall of Language in the Age of English, makes a case against the dominance of the English language in the modern age. Now, at Full-Stop, Sho Spaeth reviews the book. Sample quote: “She has a curious blindness to what may be her greatest offense of all to the prevailing attitude of our age: a naive rejection of the idea that novels, and their novelists, exist merely to entertain.”
Perhaps inspired by the similarly-named astronomer, Freeman Dyson wrote an entry for the NYT’s By the Book series, in which he praises Edward Wilson, Kristin Ghodsee, Robert Kanigel and Octavia Butler, the last of whom he dubs his favorite novelist of all time. Sample quote: “The Magic City can be read on two levels, as a children’s adventure story and as a critique of modern society. Karl Marx was a friend of [Edith] Nesbit’s family.”
“Thinking about her life is like sifting ashes. You believe you see the clear outline of a message, but it inevitably disintegrates before you can be sure of its sense. The mantle of a ‘rediscovered writer’ has never settled firmly around [her] shoulders; she has a way of resisting the platitudes of remembering.” Michelle Dean on the writer Nella Larsen.
“Maybe the optimists are right; maybe poetry does help you live your life. And maybe they are more right than they know, and it rounds you out for death.” Andrew O’Hagan writes for The Guardian about falling in love with poetry and coming to see the poet as “a risk-taker, a miracle-maker, a moral panjandrum and a convict of the senses.”