Perhaps best known for her fiction, specifically her classic The Group, Mary McCarthy became a novelist almost by chance. “McCarthy was good at recycling – a term which she used herself – and good, also, as she admitted, at plagiarizing her own life. Nevertheless, her fiction lives, and some of it has been highly influential.” Margaret Drabble takes us through McCarthy’s major works of fiction, featured in Mary McCarthy: The Complete Fiction which was released this year in a deluxe collection for the very first time.
Growing up, I was always taught that chickens lay eggs and people lie down. Since then, I’ve always been irritated by that verb’s misuse. But maybe it’s time to settle down and relax. Maybe, as Kathryn D. Blanchard argues, it’s time to stop “clinging to values that no longer serve their purposes.”
Writing a novel is an all-consuming project, so can you imagine not telling anyone? At The New York Times, Alice Mattison discusses keeping her novels secrets until at least the third draft. "If I talk about the book, I believe — I cannot help believing — my characters will be angry, and will no longer confide in me about their embarrassing, troubled lives." On another side of the secrecy spectrum, Emma Straub writes about what it's like to keep a personal secret even as her literary life was booming.
Geoff Dyer is fond of taking potshots at literary academics. He devotes considerable time in one of his novels to a professor whose speech at a conference goes off the rails. Which is why it’s odd that, in mid-July, the author showed up at a conference devoted to -- what else? -- his own work. (It's apropos to point out here that our own Mark O'Connell wrote a great essay for Slate about Dyer.)