"Because at the end of the day, there is no magic solution, no short-cut, to writing something that hopefully will last. No matter how we search for one." Jeff VanderMeer gives eight writing tips for aspiring writers in the Chicago Review of Books. See also: VanderMeer's prolific 2017 Year in Reading entry.
"Sometimes I think I’ve lost my nerve a little bit. I think it’s growing older, and a certain reservoir of anger literally runs out." The Guardian interviews James Wood, author and book critic at The New Yorker, about his craft, his forthcoming novel Upstate, and the landscape of today's literary criticism. Pair with: an essay about the greatness (and great influence) of Wood on a fellow novelist.
"Too often, a woman’s pain is not merely met with doubt, but suspicion, both within the medical community and outside of it." The New Republic writes about female pain, the medical community, and Abby Norman's book, Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain.
“The power and meaning of the written word are central to the complexities we face today—both as a nation, and globally. To my mind, freedom of expression is a basic human right." Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan has been named the new president of PEN America. Pair with: our own Edan Lepucki's 2010 profile of Egan.
"And so the book we have available to us is not the one she intended for us to see — and to those who knew her only as the private spouse of a public figure, Michelle McNamara emerges from these pages as much of a mystery as the Golden State Killer does, gone in the dark." In Vulture, a profile of the late true crime writer Michelle McNamara whose book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, was published last week. From our archives: an essay on why one writer reads true crime novels.
"I am writing a book my father will never see. Not in its entirety, not out in the world." For Longreads, Nicole Chung writes about adoption, family, writing, and finishing her upcoming memoir, All You Can Ever Know, in the wake of her father's sudden death. Pair with: Julie Buntin's Year in Reading entry which feature's Chung's memoir.
"It’s about what they call Native Excellence — and creating a path to it with its own expectations and standards, instead of relying on those established by white academia or publishing." BuzzFeed News wrote an in-depth feature on the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), which offers the US's first indigenous-centered MFA program, Terese Marie Mailhot (author of Heart Berries: A Memoir), and Tommy Orange (author of There There). Read our interview with Marcie Rendon about writing a representative novel for today's Native Americans.
"Her poems shimmer most when they reflect on the yearning to rebel against the constrained space granted to women’s voices in literature and life." On her 126th birthday, The Guardian argues that Edna St. Vincent Millay's poetry — not her reputation — should be remembered and celebrated. Pair with: an essay on being an uneasy, untamed women writer.
"An appeal for the revival of the negative book review, then, is a remonstration against forced and foppish praise, where everything is good and so nothing at all is good." In The Baffler, Rafia Zakaria writes in praise of negative book reviews and decries the "enfeebling of literary criticism." From our archives: our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about bad book reviews.
"When author Kamila Shamsie challenged the book industry to publish only women in 2018 to help address a gender imbalance in literature, just one publisher took up the challenge." And Other Stories, an English publisher who publish translations and English language books, has decided to only publish women writers in 2018, according to the BBC. Pair with: an essay by our own Marie Myung-Ok Lee about the visibility and privacy of women writers.