“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!)
An interview with the author David Bajo, on his new novel Panopticon: “I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of privacy, especially how our society constantly seeks ways to invade it technologically, how we consistently undermine it by happily participating in digital omniscience, yet how we are outraged by the pain that technology and that desire sometimes cause.”
Just when you thought we’d covered every aspect of the story of self-publishing, something like this happens. A Canadian serial killer convicted of killing six women and charged in the deaths of another twenty has self-published a memoir on Amazon in which he maintains his innocence. The papers were allegedly smuggled out of the prison by another inmate and published by a self-publishing service under a pseudonym. Amazon has since discontinued sales of the book.
Tim Parks writes for the NYRB about writers living abroad. As he puts it, “But what about those writers who move to another country and do not change language, who continue to write in their mother tongue many years after it has ceased to be the language of daily conversation? Do the words they use grow arid and stiff? Or is there an advantage in being away from what is perhaps only the flavor of the day at home, the expressions invented today and gone tomorrow? Then, beyond specifically linguistic concerns, what audience do you write toward if you are no longer regularly speaking to people who use your language?” Pair with Hannah Gersen’s Millions piece on reading the English translation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words.
“Why do we lust for lists?” Sandra M. Gilbert may not have an answer, but she does have a response to all those “100 Best American Novels” lists (and a list of her own). The Millions has a few lists too, of course – be sure to check out Janet Potter‘s “28 Books You Should Read If You Want To.”