“He was a glutton for books who treated each text as a plate he was required to clean.” Author and critic William Gass died this week at 93, reports The Washington Post. The recipient of three National Book Critics Circle awards for criticism and four Pushcart prizes, Gass was awarded the PEN/Nabakov Award for lifetime achievement in 2000. See our reviews of Middle C, a novel that took Gass almost 20 years to finish, and his most recent essay collection Life Sentences, which amply demonstrated his background as “a former philosophy professor, but more appropriately a philosopher of the word and an esthete.” We were also lucky enough to have him pen a Year in Reading entry for us back in 2009: “I miss the leisure that let me read just for fun, not to critique, or pronounce, or even to put on a list, but simply to savor,” Gass lamented. Nonetheless, he continued,“I do, from time to time, pick up old friends who never disappoint but will promise me a page or two of pleasure between art and ordinary life.”
In the Times, Virginia Heffernan bemoans how technology and the economic struggles of the publishing industry are leading to an increasing number of typos in books. However: “The Pollyannish upside to writerly inattention and cutbacks in publishing, then, is that readers sometimes see more of the human writer, and less buff and polish.”
Is Karl Ove Kanusgaard’s seven-volume, 3,600-page, vaugely-autobiographical epic possible to pitch over the course of an elevator ride? The good people over at n+1 are willing to give it a shot! Have you ever wondered about the view outside of Knausgaard’s window? I bet you have now.
“The best thing I ever do for my writing is to take a walk alone in the woods behind our house. Nothing else gets my writing juices flowing so well. And yes, I think that I absolutely need more quiet in our current fractured world.” For Poets & Writers, novelist Leesa Cross-Smith interviewed fellow writer Silas House about quiet books and the importance of nature in the writing process. Pair with: our own Emily St. John Mandel on the pleasures of quiet books.
“You can only advocate for yourself when you know what it is you want from the experience. You’d be surprised by how many people go into this process and are unclear about what they hope to get out of it.” Over at the Amazon Author Insights blog, Katrin Schumann offers a checklist of seven tips to survive submitting your writing to editors, including this note about articulating your goals beforehand. (Ed. note: Amazon helps us pay the bills around here!)
If you’re still looking for spring break plans, why not travel to a fictional place? In the weirdest tourism trend lately, travelers are visiting the real places made famous by fiction, including the Ghostbusters firehouse and the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.