Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ben Lerner gets the MacArthur "genius" grant this year

Ben Lerner, writer transcending conventional distinctions of genre and style in works that convey the texture of our contemporary moment and explore the relevance of art and the artist in modern culture.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

When texts become authorless

"if the work of my contemporaries and myself lasts a few millennia, our texts may become authorless too. Which would be no bad thing. I do like the idea of books being famous and authors remaining anonymous."

--Salman Rushdie

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Recommended reading: Two short pieces by Jonathan Franzen and Anthony Doerr

Like short pieces? Here are two short essays by Jonathan Franzen and Anthony Doerr, different takes on life, though written for the same occasion.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Animal that is the Novel

Right at the moment I’m avoiding the beginning of a novel. It’s like hunting—even though I’ve never been a hunter. You shouldn’t get too close too quickly to the animal that is the novel. It shouldn’t get wind of your intentions, much less your scent. I simply aim to track it, to see where it will lead me. Unlike serious writers, I never have a clear idea of what my main character will do, where he’ll go and how everything will end. How could I know? I simply follow the tracks, trying not to lose them and quickly writing down my prey.

--Georgi Gospodinov

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Aatish Taseer's hubris

"Let me make this simple for you: go away and read my book. Then sit down and put in words your own admiration of it. After that I will gladly take seriously your invitation.”

Saturday, September 12, 2015

What is Salman Rushdie afraid of?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Recommended reading: Con Games:Why Stephen King Can't Write.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Michel Houellebecq on Islam

I don’t know if I’ve really changed my mind. It’s true that reading the Qur’an is rather reassuring. So I said [when Submission came out in France] that I was reassured after having read the Qur’an. That said, maybe I hadn’t thought it through enough before saying that, because objectively, there’s just as little chance of Muslims reading the Qur’an as Christians reading the Bible. So what really counts in both cases is who is the clergy, or middleman, or interpreter. And in the case of Islam, that’s very open.


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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Is Jonathan Franzen's narrative recreated from a spreadsheet?

Probably no one alive is a better novelist than Jonathan Franzen, and this is frustrating because his novels are awful, excellent but awful, books you read quickly and remember ponderously, books of exhaustive craft and yet a weird, spiraling cluelessness about the data they exhaustively collate. They analyze the wave frequency but don’t hear the sound. They are full of people who talk and act exactly as you imagine such people would talk and act in real life; everyone in them is forever buying the right brand of granola bar or having believable thoughts about their mother or fantasizing in a particularly characteristic way about fucking on a hotel-room air conditioner. And yet they don’t feel like real life. They feel like real life irritably recreated from a spreadsheet, by someone who is a genius at reading spreadsheets.  Whether a novel ought to feel like real life is of course a separate question. Many novels that I love don’t, but those novels aren’t trying to, and as far as I can tell, Franzen’s are.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A writer's fear

I’m always afraid, as a writer, that the reader is going to quit reading at any paragraph, so I feel like if the language isn’t there, if the dialogue isn’t right, if there isn’t development—if I’m not giving the reader a constant stream of candy, in one form or another, they’re just going to abandon me. That’s my great fear.

--Adam Johnson

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