Lucy Ellmann’s Booker Prize-nominated novel, Ducks, Newburyport, is 1,030 pages of stream of consciousness writing narrated by an Ohio housewife—not exactly the kind of book one easily translates into the audio format. Yet actress Stephanie Ellyne was tasked with just that, as Laura Snapes at the Guardian explains. “For 45 hours and 34 minutes, Ellyne reads Ellmann’s text in a calm, bemused voice that recalls Laurie Anderson’s spoken-word work. During recording, she averaged 41 pages per hour, though the work continued away from the microphone. Every night, Ellyne would read and research the following day’s pages, working out how to pronounce the thousands of place names and obscure historical battles in US history. ‘My engineer and I wondered if some of them were fictional, but sure enough, they’re true,’ says Ellyne. ‘The violence in America—all these shootings—isn’t new.'”
Echoing Kevin Hartnett’s new year’s resolution here at The Millions, Colson Whitehead tells writers to quit bitching about getting distracted by the internet.
It’s a common trope in writing courses that young artists need a dose of childlike creativity. Self-help books for people with writer’s block are filled with callbacks to childhood interests. But is it possible, as Tasha Golden argues at the Ploughshares blog, that idealizing children isn’t the answer to our problems?
“The home I grew up in will never exist again, and this is why I write so much about home, perhaps. Because I lost mine,” Jesmyn Ward told Roxane Gay in an interview for The Toast. They discussed Ward’s new memoir, Men We Reaped, her writing process, and how she deals with being labeled a “black woman writer.”
ICYMI: After Hachette writers banded together behind their publisher (piles of tweets, an author petition (pdf), a perplexing Malcolm Gladwell YouTube clip, and of course our own Edan Lepucki in Stephen Colbert’s pre-order campaign), Amazon proposed giving authors “100% of proceeds” from ebooks — that’s including Hachette’s share — while they hashed things out. You gotta admire that gumption. Halfway around the world, a French court order just banned free delivery for discounted book orders–so Amazon now charges one cent. Also: they’ve got drones. The Times concludes that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.