“Throughout the Crash, I wrote free-hand, not caring about the style or if something I wrote in the afternoon contradicted something I’d established in the story that morning. The priority was simply to get the ideas surfacing and growing. Awful sentences, hideous dialogue, scenes that went nowhere – I let them remain and ploughed on.” Newly minted Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro on writing The Remains of the Day in four weeks.
This edition of Apartment Therapy with Ivan Ilych from the good people over at McSweeney’s will have you packing up shop and heading for St. Petersburg in no time. For a slightly more serious take on Tolstoy, here’s a piece on morals and manners in The Death of Ivan Ilych.
In true Seinfeldian fashion, Arthur Martine, the Victorian writer behind Martine’s Handbook of Etiquette, drew up a detailed taxonomy of the various species of bore. These include the Loud Talker, who “silences a whole party by his sole power of lungs;” the Malaprop, who masters the art of inappropriate conversation; and the Life-Sharer, who may be familiar to the Facebook addicts of today.
Is there a better way to honor Norman Mailer than by throwing a few punches? Nate Freeman was bored at the book party for J. Michael Lennon's new biography, Norman Mailer: A Double Life, so he got into a drunken fist fight in Mailer's apartment. We bet Mailer would approve.
When did Samuel Beckett's "fail better" become the motto of Silicon Valley? At Slate, our own Mark O'Connell traces the history of the phrase. "Fail Better, with its TEDishly counterintuitive feel, is the literary takeaway par excellence; it’s usefully suggestive, too, of the corporate propaganda of productivity, with its appeals to 'think different' or 'work smarter' or 'just do it.'"