“I’m used to writing in very weird contexts.” Poet Brian Sonia-Wallace talks with Minnesota’s Star Tribune about his gig as the Mall of America’s first-ever writer in residence. Asked if he’ll go crazy during his several-day-long tenure, Sonia-Wallace answered “probably” (via Bookforum). Our own Marie Myung-Ok Lee had some opinions back when the residency was first announced.
“Why do we love our writing teachers so much? I think it’s because they come along when we need them most, when we are young and vulnerable and are tentatively approaching this craft that our culture doesn’t have much respect for, but which we are beginning to love. They have so much power. They could mock us, disregard us, use us to prop themselves up. But our teachers, if they are good, instead do something almost holy, which we never forget: they take us seriously.” George Saunders offers a timeline of his writing education over at The New Yorker.
“When I was 16 years old, some of my brothers and sisters and cousins [were] going down to the public library trying to get public library cards, and we were told the library was for whites only, not for coloreds. To come here and receive this award this honor is too much. Thank you.” Representative John Lewis upon receiving the National Book Award for volume three of his graphic memoir March, which documents Lewis's role in the civil rights movement.
Recommended recommendations: Weird Fiction Review has compiled a list of notable "weird" French and Belgian writers.
It’s not Christmas, but it’s close. It’s time for the Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex Award Shortlist to be released. This year’s finalists include My Education author Susan Choi and famous folk singer Woody Guthrie among others, and the winner(?) will be announced on December 3rd. (Bonus: Their Twitter account is sharing particularly awful excerpts as well.)
Readers of The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature most likely have a good idea of just how much the late Norman Mailer was a wellspring of jokes about writers. The pugilistic novelist, journalist and failed mayoral candidate did choose to title a collection of his work Advertisements for Myself, after all. Yet as Andrew O’Hagan notes in the LRB, it's hard not to admire the cojones on a guy who once told a prominent editor he was “still too young and too arrogant to care to write the kind of high-grade horseshit you print in Harper’s Bazaar."
The Kilroys, a group of leaders in American theater, has put together a list of 46 plays by emerging women playwrights that they think deserve to produced (only 10.5% of Broadway plays are written by women). That list is a brilliant resource to promote diversity in dramatic literature--but now we want to read all the unpublished plays on it.