“The hijacking of public language, as is happening now, is a way to shift perception—to bend and control thought—and must be resisted.” Summer Brennan pens a powerful first entry for her twice-monthly column about language and power at The Literary Hub. Read also our own Lydia Kiesling, who tells us, “I have to believe that literature can be a weapon of a sort — it explodes comfort even while it delivers comfort; it reveals hypocrisy in a way that the mere presentation of facts often cannot.”
Peter Ackroyd, a man who T Magazine writer Jody Rosen calls “[an] insanely prolific, controversial and eccentric novelist and historian,” has published, at last count, nearly 6,500 pages of text. That incredible figure equates to more than fifty books, many of them with titles like Dickens: Public Life and Private Passions. (At present, he’s working on a biography of Alfred Hitchcock.)
One of the more common questions that comes up in The Nervous Breakdown’s self-interviews is what the subjects consider to be the hardest part of the writing life. The most recent edition sees Jac Jemc, whose latest came out last week, admit that time is what foils her: “Everything takes longer than I think it will, more drafts than I think it will.” This might be a good time to look back on some earlier examples of the form.
After Herzog came out, Saul Bellow began the slow transformation from young Bellow into old Bellow, from the critically adored but little-known writer to the Nobel Prize winner whose views were solicited on every topic. In The New Yorker, Louis Menand writes about a new biography of the author, which tackles his early career. Related: our own Emily St. John Mandel on Bellow’s novel The Bellarosa Connection.