“Getting too quickly to where you want to go, getting there too smoothly, is antithetical to thinking through complex issues. You want roadblocks, confusion, chaos, and doubt. Unexpected, wonderful things come out of this approach.” Jeff VanderMeer provides a master class for Publisher’s Weekly on novel revision, explaining in five steps how his new book Borne arrived at its final incarnation. And for more shop talk, see VanderMeer’s interview with The Kills author Richard House from our own pages a couple of years back.
“If [Langston] Hughes and Cullen were competitors, of sorts, for the prize of principal African American poet of their generation, Cullen may have had an early lead, and during the later 1920s and early 1930s they were often discussed in tandem.” At The Boston Review, Major Jackson takes a look at the career and legacy of Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen.
You’re probably up to your neck in World Cup coverage, but here are some gems well worth your attention no matter what: Teju Cole created a “Copa do Mundo do Brasil” playlist to set the mood; Pablo Torre’s one-sentence-long summation of Day One in São Paulo; an excerpt from Aleksandar Hemon’s The Matters of Life, Death, and More: Writing on Soccer; The New Republic’s round-up of “eleven writers and intellectuals on the World Cup’s most compelling characters“; and, of course, Shaj Mathew’s recent Millions review of Brazil’s Dance with the Devil.
At the Paris Review Daily, Nick Antosca reminisces on reading Lolita at 12: “Who among my seventh-grade classmates, I wondered with a frisson, was such a creature? What girl had that ‘soul-shattering, insidious charm’ that, while invisible to me, made the antennae of certain adult males tremble?”
“Echoes are etched into the pages thanks to margin-scrawled notes, a yellowed coffee splatter or sticky peanut-butter-and-jelly fingerprints.” In her project “Expired,” photographer Kerry Mansfield documents the life of library books. We suggest pairing The Guardian‘s gallery of her photos with our own Jacob Lambert‘s “Open Letter to the Person Who Wiped Boogers on My Library Book.”
A while back, our own Mark O’Connell argued that Flann O’Brien, in The Poor Mouth, was the funniest writer who ever lived. Now, in an essay, Erin Somersin says the title should go to Mordecai Richler instead. She writes about the Canadian author’s unique sense of humor in a piece for the Ploughshares blog.