Rachel Monroe always wanted to be a person who’d written a book, but it took years to become someone who wanted to write a particular book. Her work as a reporter eventually led her to write Savage Appetites, which follows four women who become obsessed with violent crime, either as an investigator, defender, victim, or (would-be) killer. In a conversation with Jonny Auping for Longreads, Monroe discusses this fixation as a cultural phenomenon, saying that she was writing against “that feeling of numbness or checking out or zoning out that sometimes came over me…these stories sort of short circuit the parts of us that know better and have a sense of who is really at risk when you look at the statistical realities of crime versus these stories that make us all feel like at any moment someone is going to come through the door with a knife.”
“We connect with books in an intellectual way, but the most valuable relationships we have with them are emotional; to say that you merely admire or respect a book is, on some level, to insult it. Feelings are so fundamental to literary life that it can be hard to imagine a way of relating to literature that doesn’t involve loving it. Without all those emotions, what would reading be?” Joshua Rothman on “The History of ‘Loving’ to Read.”
“When is it plagiarism, when is it homage? Especially in creative writing, I get tripped up on this distinction. A trick for writer’s block: write an imitation, steal moves, learn by mimicry. For my own poem-writing, I turn to other texts all the time. I pull language, take a word I like, sometimes fragments of phrases and twist them. I get inspired, I want to model after poems I fell madly for.” On discovering another writer’s plagiarism.