“Fiction is messier. Essay is, for me, an attempt at a kind of clarity. I have a very messy and chaotic mind, but when I’m writing an essay I find I can exert a bit more control over it.” The The Guardian published a Q&A with Zadie Smith with questions from fellow authors, politicians, and fans. Smith’s upcoming essay collection, Feel Free, is featured in the first half of our 2018 Great Book Preview.
Recommended Reading: Hannah Rose-Woods on totalitarianism in the wizarding world.
At the Ploughshares blog, Erinrose Mager interviews Year in Reading alum Rick Moody, who talks about his classes at NYU and why he prefers “the mentorship model” of teaching writing over the workshop model. (Related: our founder C. Max Magee reviewed Moody’s book The Diviners back in 2006).
“By now, you are probably asking yourself, Did these two ever talk about anything serious? Of course, we did. We talked about how writing a poem is no different from taking out a frying pan and concocting a dish out of the ingredients available in the house, how in poetry, as in cooking, it’s all a matter of subtle little touches that come from long experience or are the result of sudden inspiration.” Charles Simic writes movingly about his friend, the late poet Mark Strand, and their various schemes, from buying palazzos to founding a gastronomic poetry movement, for The New York Review of Books.
Franzen fans: Freedom, the long-awaited follow-up to The Corrections is now available for pre-order. The specs: 576 pages, August 31st 2010. “Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom’s intensely realized characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.”
Millions staff writing appearing elsewhere: At In Character, my essay about Derrick Borte’s The Joneses and the idea of the American impostor (ECW).
How to Sell author Clancy Martin, drawing on his previous career as a jeweler, kicks off a three-parter at the Paris Review blog about how a potential jewelry deal took him to New Orleans and he ended up out on the street, wearing a bath towel and a blazer.