At Entertainment Weekly, Colson Whitehead shares how he found his voice for his newest novel, Harlem Shuffle, and how it has evolved over time. “After my poker book, The Noble Hustle, I’ve been able to find my voice really quickly,” Whitehead says. “I think it was writing in that first-person voice: There was a confidence there, and it stayed with me. Not a lot of people liked that book, but I’ve felt sure-footed ever since. [While] I can easily find flaws with my earlier novels, I really feel 100 percent behind my last four. I also know it can all come crashing down, so I keep working and trying not to coast. The fear that my luck has run out keeps me going.”
How do you know if the book you’re writing is going to fly or flop? Try writing the first 80 pages without worrying about the outcome as Meg Wolitzer does. “Eighty pages is enough pages for a writer to feel she’s accomplished something, but it’s not so many pages that, if she decides to put aside the book, she’ll feel as if she’s wasted her life,” she told the Daily Beast for its “How I Write” series. It must work because we loved The Interestings.
A scholar who has uncovered Walt Whitman‘s handwritten documents announced his findings Tuesday at the National Archives. These documents are from Whitman‘s time as a government worker, concerning civil rights, war crimes, treason, and western expansion. View the documents here.
Edwidge Danticat gives us one of the best definitions of the short story in an interview with Kima Jones at The Rumpus. “The short story is like an exquisite painting and you might, when looking at this painting, be wondering what came before or after, but you are fully absorbed in what you’re seeing.” They also discuss Danticat’s novel Claire of the Sea Light, Haitian and Dominican relations, and giving yourself permission to tell the truth. To find out what Danticat has been reading, see her 2013 Year in Reading.
“Hill had maintained a daily writing routine since age 13, completing four or five books as a teen and four more as an adult, and was now, at the cusp of 35, finally putting out a novel—a ghost story.” GQ profiles Joe Hill about his writing, being the son of Stephen King, and finding success in his own right. From our archives: our own editor Lydia Kiesling‘s essay on King, nostalgia, and America.
You may have heard that E.L. Doctorow passed away last week. The Ragtime and Billy Bathgate author was known for his mastery of historical fiction. At The Guardian, Michael Chabon offers a tribute, arguing that Doctorow found a way out of the binary trap between postmodernism and realism.
The latest actor to go vampire? John. C Reilly! As you might expect, he’s a hammy vampire, not a sparkly one. See the preview for Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant