“if I am going to set a novel in a real place, in a real time, I must get all the details right. I should not put a wall around Washington Square, start the Iraq War in 2005, or claim that maple trees bear acorns. This matters because it has to do with keeping faith with your readers. If you get something verifiable wrong, why should they believe you when you really are making things up?” Helen Benedict for Amazon Author Insights on finding the balance between research and imagination when writing fiction. (Full disclosure, Amazon helps us pay the bills around here!)
Last week I asked “What about J.T. Leroy?” I was wondering when the Leroy hoaxers were going to come forward. Now, one of them has. Warren St. John of the New York Times got Geoffrey Knoop to come clean on the record. Knoop also said that he didn’t think Laura Albert, who wrote the Leroy books, would ever come forward: “‘For her, it’s very personal,’ he said. ‘It’s not a hoax. It’s a part of her.'”Meanwhile, PopMatters put together a special section about Leroy and James Frey. I enjoyed The Rake’s related comments on why Frey can’t hold a candle to Charles Bukowski.I saw Brokeback Mountain a few days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. In an excerpt from Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay, Annie Proulx describes what it was like seeing her story on the screen: “I felt that, just as the ancient Egyptians had removed a corpse’s brain through the nostril with a slender hook before mummification, the cast and crew of this film, from the director down, had gotten into my mind and pulled out images.” (via Maud)This Boston Globe column articulates quite precisely how I feel about the strife surrounding the cartoons of Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper.
After 73 years, everyone’s favorite redheaded comic book hero will be killed off. Archie Andrews will die in a July issue of the Life With Archie comic. “He dies saving the life of a friend and does it in his usual selfless way,” Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater said. That won’t be the last you’ll see of Archie, though, because Lena Dunham will write a few issues in one of Archie’s other comic incarnations.
Francis Spufford’s fictionalized book Red Plenty looks to the 1950s-1960s “cybernetics” initiative to answer one of the main questions about the USSR: “Could the Soviet project to build communism have succeeded, or was it doomed to failure from the start?” In his review for The Hoover Institution, Marshall Poe contends the latter.
If you’ve finished winding your way through Elise Liu’s recommended New Yorker articles – which, as of this week, are free to be read online – you can start working your way through Longform’s roundup of their 25 favorite unlocked pieces. (Or you can go even bigger, thanks to The Awl.)
Literary critic Amitava Kumar has written a personal essay for the Chronicle on his experience reading from Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses at the Jaipur Literary Festival in India, where the work has banned for 23 years. Read The Millions coverage of the festival here.