What is the personal essay, and where could it go from here? In The Boston Review, Merve Emre traces two paths.
“There is one rule [to writing biography] that all who try their hand at it come to know: until the protagonist reveals his or her character—his or her inner self—what the biographer produces is less a life than a report, an autopsy rather than the record of a séance.” David Levering Lewis writes for The American Scholar about biography and writing “the lives of African-American figures, and [finding] in them the story of our times.”
Wikipedia Find of the Week: A list of films that most frequently use the word “fuck.”
For the most part, your average writer’s retreat is a pretty cushy place. Its amenities are designed to let its guests turn their energies to the difficulties of artistic work. At The Paris Review Daily, Rex Weiner writes a dispatch from a different sort of retreat — a haunted house for writers in Mexico. To read about a more traditional experience, check out our own Michael Bourne on his time at Bread Loaf.
“[Virginie] Despentes has become a kind of cult hero, a patron saint to invisible women: the monstrous and marginalized, the sodden, weary and wildly unemployable, the kind of woman who can scarcely be propped up let alone persuaded to lean in.” On Virginie Despentes’s Bye Bye Blondie and French feminist pulp that pulls no punches.
One way to go green: the San Francisco Public Library is making library cards from corn.The New York Times mines the data from its integrated dictionary feature to find the words its readers most frequently look up: sui generis, solipsistic, louche…Bill Simmons talks basketball with The New Yorker (via)Inspired by the attention surrounding J.D. Salinger’s lawsuit to block an unauthorized sequel to The Catcher in the Rye, Patrick Brown at Vroman’s has put together an impressive, involved post cataloging and discussing literary remixes.It’s not too late to get in on TMN’s “Infinte Summer,” a summer-long group read of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.For those ebook fans who miss that “new book smell.”Speaking of enhancing ebooks, what happens to book signings in the age of the ebook? Sign the Kindle?!Sonya Chung’s thoughtful take on Dan Baum’s Twitter essay about being fired from The New Yorker, including a comment from Baum himself.Mark Sarvas says don’t fear the Kindle at HuffPoCarolyn Kellogg shares some satire for the bookish set.The Millions’ Collaborative Atlas of Book Stores and Literary Places has now been viewed over 500,000 times!From TMN, “A Terrifically Bad Idea: 10 cafes, 10 macchiatos, one morning, by bike.”High concept fun from The Washington Post: “We asked authors which book character they would like to accompany them for a day on the beach.” (thanks Arna)Wikipedia find of the week: List of child prodigies.Further Reading: Jeff Hobbes’ “Open Letter to Kanye West” generated many supportive comments from other proud readers.