“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.
Here are some things about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle you can learn from this questionnaire: he used the word “ditto;” he reserved his greatest admiration for “men who do their duty without fuss;” and he seems to have been quite happy with being Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Larry Rohter at the New York Times relates the darker, more cynical Mark Twain that has emerged through publication of the first volume of his unexpurgated autobiography, a century after his death: “One thing that gets Mark Twain going is his rage and resentment.”
April Bernard is not a fan of Writers’ Houses because she does not believe the “private life, even of the dead, is ours to plunder.” Earlier this year, our own Luke Epplin also noted some of the limitations of Writers’ Houses.