Colson Whitehead has some advice: write the book that “scares you shitless.” In a recent, wide-ranging interview with John Freeman, the Underground Railroad author talks about why he wrote his latest novel, along with his methods for sussing out good ideas. You could also read our review of The Underground Railroad.
We’re pleased as punch to introduce Millions readers to our new interns, Carolyn Quimby and Ariana Valderrama. Arianna is originally from Chicago but is currently based in Washington, D.C. where she works in communications. In high school she started a book blog, Reading in Color, where she reviewed over 200 middle grade and young adult books about people of color. On her nightstand right now: Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman Jr. and White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Carolyn works in academic publishing by day and is a freelance writer and book reviewer by night. Sometimes she dreams about going on a road trip solely dedicated to visiting bookstores, but mostly she tweets at @CarolynQuimby. Currently on her nightstand: Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel Khong and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. We couldn’t be happier to have Carolyn and Ariana on board!
“Some people see things others cannot, and they are right, and we call them creative geniuses. Some people see things others cannot, and they are wrong, and we call them mentally ill.” The Atlantic has an excellent contribution to the age-old thesis that creativity and madness are inextricably linked–and tied, moreover, to mental illness–based in part on a sample of students at Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Pair with another essay on creativity and the “touch of madness” from our own archives.
Penguin is putting out snazzy, mesmerizing, jacket-less hardcover editions of a number of classics. These remind of the old books on my parents’ shelves. You won’t be able to get your hands on these for a few months though.
“In this here place, we flesh; … Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it.” Toni Morrison‘s Beloved as featured in a powerful essay by Allyson Hobbs for The Root about black life, Philando Castile, “and the trauma that remains.” See also: a consideration of parallels between Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic and The Odyssey.
“War isn’t a destination, nor is it a topic to be mined for scribes with nothing else to say … War can be a subject, like any other, and it can be written about well, and it can be written about poorly.” Here is Matt Gallagher, author of the Iraq-war novel Youngblood, in an interview with J.T. Price at Bomb. Last week, Gallagher interviewed another great young novelist/veteran (and winner of the 2014 National Book Award in fiction), Phil Klay.
Recommended Reading: Ottessa Moshfegh on eating mayonnaise for the first time.