Whether they’re expected or not, houseguests often add intrigue and excitement to a novel. For The Guardian, author Jessica Francis Kane (who recently spoke to The Millions about her fourth book, Rules for Visiting) lists some of her favorite houseguests in literature, including King Lear, Jane Bennet, and more. “Allegedly there are only two kinds of story: someone goes on a journey, or someone comes to town. Either way the person has to stay somewhere, so the houseguest story is everywhere once you start looking for it.”
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.
Last semester, at UC Riverside, the novelist Susan Straight began the class “Mixed-Race Literature and the American Experience” with a simple question: “How many of you are often asked, What are you?” In an essay about the class, she relates what they learned, which includes the observation that hair is weirdly important in America. (Related: The Millions published an essay by Straight on Toni Morrison’s Sula.)