“[A]ny discussion of craft does not take place in a vacuum – that race is part of one’s lived experience and how we see ourselves and are seen does impact how and what we write.” Poet Neil Aiken puts together an absolutely indispensable list of texts – books, essays, lectures and beyond – on the craft of writing by writers of color. See also: our own Edan Lepucki‘s impromptu syllabus of craft readings.
"Directly you are in motion you will feel quite helpless, and experience a sensation of being run away with, and it will seem as if the machine were trying to throw you off." The bicycle was little more than a confusing craze back in 1877. The London Library has just uncovered some fascinating and hilarious vintage educational pamphlets on everything from 'The Gentlewoman’s Book of Sports' to 'Cycling As a Cause of Heart Disease.'
"We editors told ourselves the naked women were merely carnival barkers: they got an audience into the tent, but we kept them with the content." In the Guardian, Playboy's former fiction editor Amy Grace Loyd reveals what it was like to work at the magazine and how she commissioned work from writers like Donna Tartt, Margaret Atwood, and Junot Díaz. Read our review of Loyd's debut novel, The Affairs of Others.
“On the level of narrative possibility, I was really drawn to the sense of aloneness that rose from so many of these images—the terrifying possibility of being the last person left on earth, or even the last person left in a neighborhood, a swamp, a freeway. That stark haunting irony of living in a world of excess that has eventually collapsed on itself, emptied out.” Guernica interviews Leslie Jamison and Ryan Spencer for their new collaboration, Such Mean Estate.
Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way "the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us." Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against "relatability," but it's something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.
Take a vicarious trip to China via a special issue of Ninth Letter, a literary and arts journal published by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Including work by authors Madelaine Thien and Khaled Al Khamissi, the issue grew out of a residency sponsored by Sun Yat-sen University's Center for English-language Creative Writing, the only such department of its kind in that country. Pair with this piece by Casey Walker about writing his novel Last Days in Shanghai, which is set in the boomtown of today's new China.