For the Guardian, Lulah Ellender reflects on her own (imagined) literary rivalries and looks at famous competitive pairs throughout history, including Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, Gore Vidal and Truman Capote, and Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield. “In classical stories of rivalry, revenge is enacted violently, often ending with a morally justified death. In the literary world things don’t usually get that far,” Ellender notes, “though Richard Ford shot a hole through one of Alice Hoffman’s books after she gave him a bad review, and Marcel Proust and Jean Lorrain had an actual duel.”
Considering his experience as a musician and comedian, it makes sense that Jacob Rubin wrote his new novel about a performer. The Poser depicts the tumultuous career of a talented impressionist. At Bookforum, Rubin talks about the novel, his career as a screenwriter and his knack for impressions as a child. You could also read his interview with Reif Larsen here at The Millions.
A writer in her own right, Sybille Lacan reflects on her experience as the daughter of famous psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. She writes, “Father, for our birthdays, would give us superb gifts (I believe it took me far too long to understand it was not he who had picked them out).”
“‘What I want,’ a young Luis Buñuel announced to the audience at an early screening of his first film, Un Chien Andalou (1929), ‘is for you not to like the film … I’d be sorry if it pleased you.’ The film’s opening scene, which culminates in a close-up of a straight-edge razor being drawn through a woman’s eyeball, is often taken as the epitome of cinema’s potential to do violence to its audience…Horror movies frighten us; violent thrillers agitate us; sentimental stories make us cry. Suffering is often part of our enjoyment. Within limits, however: we are not to be so displeased that we are not pleased. Buñuel deliberately went beyond the limits of permissible displeasure. And so, in his own way, does the Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke.”
How do you know when you’re finished writing a novel? Electric Literature’s advice column, The Blunt Instrument, tackles the timeless questions of how to begin and when to end. If it’s endings you’re after, this piece from The Millions on writers and last lines will help give you some closure.
The Toast may be closing its doors soon, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still putting out hilarious pieces. This week, it’s Vape Aficionado’s Guide to Finding a Token Lady-Writer, featuring such gems as: “Margaret Atwood: Because she’s good at Twitter and you forgot how to spell ‘Le Guin,'” and “George Eliot: Whoops, you thought George was a dude, didn’t you? Purely accidental, but it still counts!”
George Bernard Shaw had a strange relationship with Nietzsche. Alternately envious and dismissive of the German philosopher, Shaw once said he wanted to be an intellectual in Nietzsche’s mold, though he also felt Nietzsche’s thinking was addled and self-absorbed. In an essay for The New Statesman, Michael Holroyd tries to make sense of Shaw’s views.