“As a writer, it’s not like all experience is useful, but when something is troubling, a form can present itself as a way to think. To put what is essentially chaotic into a container where it can be what it is.” The Rumpus interviews John Freeman, the Executive Editor of LitHub, about his recent literary projects, the death of his mother, and empathy. Pair with: Contributing Editor Nick Ripatrazone‘s Year in Reading which includes Freeman’s debut poetry collection, Maps.
“The idea that novels could be dangerous seems largely have fallen by the wayside, which does raise the question of how today’s newer sources of entertainment and information will look to the critics of the future. In 50 years, maybe we’ll be lamenting our failure to read enough Internet.” Anna North writes about the distant time “When Novels Were Bad For You” for The New York Times.
It can be hard for critics to strike a balance between high theory and accessible prose. For James Wood, the key is to retain enough theoretical knowledge to come up with an insightful point, while still retaining the ability to write in a natural dialect. In The Guardian, he talks about his own relationship with books.
How do we map our experiences? Where You Are (our review) attempts to answer this but ends up raising an interesting relationship between print and online story space. At Music & Literature, Reif Larsen traces the history of interactive books and contemplates the future of online story space. “Considering print books have been around for over five hundred years, online publishing is still in its infancy. Much of the map remains blank.” Pair with: Larsen’s essay on the power of the infographic.
Will Self, whose novel Umbrella was recently tapped for the Booker Prize Longlist, talks about his literary influences with The Browser. For what it’s worth, here’s Self’s take on writing with the specific goal of a literary prize in mind: “I don’t know any writers who are trying to be clever and get a literary prize. Who the fuck would bother with such a thing?”
“Yes, they believed I was a dangerous person, unpredictable, and I observed that I really scared them. Sometimes I noted that the guards looked at me as judges. Their look translated to me as ‘gorilla, stay in your cage!’ When soldiers were off-duty, they came to gawk at me with a sense of wonder. Sometime they would throw me a piece of meat or something sweet, just like to an animal. The old EZ: an exciting and fascinating sight.” Ezra Pound reflects on his time in an Italian prison.
In writing her novel The Last Neanderthal, which published this week, Millions staffer Claire Cameron relied on Jane Smiley’s motto for writing historical fiction: “you are there.” Bonus: Don’t miss our interview with Cameron, in which she describes her many “life-long obsessions.”