“What does the professoriate watch off the clock, in their precious moments of respite?” Because academics need breaks too, Sarah Kessler asks her colleagues what shows they’ll be binge-watching this summer. If you’re one of those weirdos who still prefers books, though, how about binge-reading Henry James?
“In creative writing, I teach that characters arise out of our need for them. By now, the person I created in New York was the only one I wanted to be. …Eight years after reaching the end of myself, I was on borrowed time. Whether it was in a plane or a coffin, I knew I had to get out of Jamaica.” Marlon James, author of The Book of Night Women, which once gave me so much trouble, and whose novel A Brief History of Seven Killings the Book Report covered here, writes for the New York Times Magazine about leaving Jamaica to find himself in Minnesota.
“I’m annoyed that so many young rapists lack interest in their own motivations, or are led to believe that an absence of real psychic motive will make the crime merely an act, when really it’s the uninterested mereness of the act that makes it feel, to some victims, so criminal.” Sarah Nicole Prickett compares the many letters released following Brock Turner’s trial at n+1.
Penelope Fitzgerald has been getting a lot of attention lately, largely due to Hermione Lee‘s newest biography. In an article for the Paris Review, Bridget Read considers the impact a better understanding of Fitzgerald’s life could have on her modern reputation, and argues that “it is not extraordinary that she became a prize-winning novelist, though you may have heard otherwise. … It is vital to emphasize that Fitzgerald’s novels were not achieved in spite of her domestic life; they were borne directly out of it. Her work is radical in that it suggests that, in fact, a feminine experience, a liminal experience, might be better equipped than a male one to address the contradictions of human existence taken up by the greatest literature.”
To commemorate the book’s 75th anniversary, WNYC and WQXR Radio will present a live radio play of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. New Yorkers will be able to catch the broadcast on February 29th and March 1st, and then the rest of the nation can hear it in September.
Why do some ideas only come to you when you’re under a tremendous amount of pressure? At the Ploughshares blog, S. Hope Mills reflects on the importance of deadlines, which may explain (according to Guardian columnist Robert Crum) why Dickens chose to serialize his novels.
“Writers are outsiders, and usually not by their own choosing. It’s why they’re writers. If they didn’t feel alienated from human experience, they wouldn’t feel so drawn to writing to make sense of their lives. It’s not the outsider’s facility for language that makes her a writer — many a student body president or homecoming queen can turn a phrase — but her ability to howl at the moon, on the page.” Karen Karbo writes for Powell’s Books’s blog about how much publishing has changed in the last 20-some years, but she also has a lot of great words about why people would want to deal with writing and publishing in the first place. Pair her smart essay with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s piece “Practical Art: On Teaching the Business of Creative Writing.”