At the Atlantic, Sanjena Sathian discusses why she chooses to use concrete pop culture references that ground her work to our current time period, most notably in a recent short story, “The Missing Limousine.” “Among writers,” Sathian says, “there’s a sense that pop culture weighs down ‘serious’ art—like we’re afraid of burdening our work with specific markers of the moment. But all art and thought is a product of its moment, whether we acknowledge it or not.”
Remember when Little Red Riding Hood was eaten by a hyena? Wait, that’s not the folktale we know. Whether or not Little Red Riding Hood gets eaten depends on where you hear the famous folktale, but anthropologist Jamie Tehrani discovered the origins of the scarlet-hooded girl — Belgium.
“You can only advocate for yourself when you know what it is you want from the experience. You’d be surprised by how many people go into this process and are unclear about what they hope to get out of it.” Over at the Amazon Author Insights blog, Katrin Schumann offers a checklist of seven tips to survive submitting your writing to editors, including this note about articulating your goals beforehand. (Ed. note: Amazon helps us pay the bills around here!)
Actor and humorist Nick Offerman at “By The Book” on choosing George Saunders to write his hypothetical life story: “I think [Saunders] would embarrass me by telling the justifiable truth, but with such élan that I would have to shrug and say, ‘It was worth it.’ If anybody could pull it off, I believe Mr. Saunders would have the tools and talent necessary to render the woodshop traumas of sandpaper and spokeshave, the roller coaster dynamics of a character actor’s life in showbiz, and my relentless penchant for filling a room with noxious gases into a palatable narrative. George — if you’re reading this and you’re up for it — before you dive in, I would just like to say that I think you’re very handsome.”
“A story works when there’s momentum, life behind the words,” Mary Miller told Matthew Salesses at The Rumpus. She needs that momentum for her new novel, The Last Days of California, about a family driving to California for the rapture. Also, Amy Butcher wrote about her favorite Millerisms at Hobart.
There’s a new Ethicist in town. Chuck Klosterman is taking over the NYT advice column, and I’m thinking, gee, I wonder what the author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs knows about ethics. His first column seems pretty legit, but I can’t wait for him to introduce time-travel [pdf] and other hypotheticals.