At Vox, Ottessa Moshfegh discusses her 2018 book, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, and how it has taken on a life of its own during the pandemic. “Everyone I know has gone through an internal transformation,” Moshfegh says, “And that makes perfect sense. That’s why I write about isolated characters — so they can have a deeper relationship with themselves in the course of the novel. That’s why I’m slightly antisocial to begin with, too. I spend a lot of time having to figure out what’s going on inside. […] In a time where there has been so much trauma and loss, it was a silver lining. Humanity finds purpose where it can. It’s like flowers growing out of the cracks in the sidewalk. People can grow anywhere. That is beautiful.”
In the June Atlantic, William Deresiewicz revisits that old favorite subject, the past and future of the Great American novel, in a review of two new books about the history of novels: The Dream of the Great American Novel by Laurence Buell and The Novel: A Biography by Michael Schmidt. (Dizzy yet? If not, consider nine other experts’ opinions on the Great American Novel here at The Millions, for a round dozen.)
“He is the king, after all, and kings don’t lead revolutions. They rule wary of them.” Just about everything that Rowan Ricardo Phillips has to say about basketball is recommended reading at this point, and this piece on Lebron James and kingship is no different. This older piece on Steph Curry and the sustainability of brilliance is an early highlight.
“I realized that there was something wrong with an arrangement whereby a relatively affluent person such as I had become could afford to write about minimum wage jobs, squirrels as an urban food source or the penalties for sleeping in parks, while the people who were actually experiencing these sorts of things, or were in danger of experiencing them, could not.” Barbara Ehrenreich on writing about poverty.
“I try to edit my work in different states of mind. So I’ll go running on a really hot day and then read the 2,000 words I just wrote. Or if I’m upset, or really sleepy, or if I’m drunk, I’ll read this stuff. If you’re sleepy and you find yourself skipping over a paragraph because you’re bored by it and just want to get to the interesting part, it comes out. Those different states of mind are a really interesting filter.” Writing advice from Sebastian Junger.