At the Creative Independent, Lauren Oyler discusses how writing literary criticism helped her define the intentional, dynamic style she wanted in her own fiction. “I think writing criticism helped me be very intentional with everything that I was putting in,” Oyler says. “Everything I put in is there for a reason, even if the reason is just ‘this is funny.’ I’m not making sure every sentence is a perfect diamond because I don’t think that that’s possible. I wanted the book to feel alive and energetic, like something that sometimes has made rather than produced in a factory.”
It’s an age-old question for writers and thinkers: how do you quiet the noise of your thoughts? In Aeon Magazine, Tim Parks wonders if it’s even possible to silence internal monologues — and, if it is, whether that silence means losing sight of our identities. (Related: our own Mark O’Connell reviewed Parks’s latest book.)
Poor Robert Frost can’t catch a break. Last month, we wrote about the Kansas man who stole a bronze bust of the poet. Now, a Vermont man has been charged with stealing Frost’s personal letters and Christmas cards that were left in a desk donated to the non-profit where he worked. He also sold them for $25,000 but only has to pay an $100 fine.
“On the way home, the girl did not notice the color of the sky or the shape of the night, as she was too busy questioning why there were no secrets anymore.” As part of its Recommended Reading series, Electric Literature offers a special seven-part serial by Joe Meno. “Star Witness” tells the story of a young woman in a small southern town who spends the night searching for a missing local girl, and we can’t wait to read the next six installments. Pair with our own Edan Lepucki‘s profile of Meno from a few years back: “[he] seems more than willing to try new things in his work, to stretch his expectations of what he can do as a writer, and what a book can be.”
Leave it to Roxane Gay to come up with a novel format for an essay on the feminist novel. In the new issue of Dissent, she presents eleven theses on the topic, including references to Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, and Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Sample quote: “Not every novel that concerns itself with the lives of women is a feminist novel. Fifty Shades of Grey is not a feminist novel.” You could also read our own Edan Lepucki on the problem with feminist anthems.