So I want to throw my two cents into this non-conversation and try to elucidate how sleepiness is a regular part of my reading (and thus professional) life, and see what that means, if anything. Of course it’s different for everyone, and I can imagine there are some readers for whom maintaining energy isn’t a problem at all. I’m only talking about my own experience—which from talking to numerous literary types seems at least relatable, if not universal—and I don’t presume to speak for anyone else other than myself.
Here’s the thing: reading and writing exhaust. They expend my intellect, deplete my creative capabilities, and tire my body. These are not, though, inherently bad things; in fact the only reason reading and writing have those effects is because they are both extraordinarily operative—it is difficult, then, to engage with them half-heartedly, because it’s basically the equivalent of not engaging at all. It would be like exercising without a rising heart rate: you may look like you’re doing the same thing as everyone else at Planet Fitness, but you aren’t getting any thinner or any healthier. Continue reading…
In Search of the Real Truman Capote | The Atlantic
Music for Chameleons is Capote’s most idiosyncratic book, his flat-out weirdest, but it’s also his most honest, and, in many ways, his best. It’s a shaky testament to a complex figure, and the battle with himself that he would never quite win. It captures Capote’s vast range, his uncanny ear for speech, his fascination with crime and process, his unprecedented access to celebrities and criminals alike—but most of all, Music for Chameleons captures his heart, hidden just below the pages. He wasn’t a saint, but he needn’t have been. Capote was a true artist—his blood was ink—and artists are more beautiful than saints, anyway.
Has Anyone Actually Read Infinite Jest? | Lit Hub
Has Infinite Jest become the kind of book that people own but haven’t read? Is it like War and Peace or The Recognitions or Gravity’s Rainbow or Middlemarch or The Magic Mountain or The Man Without Qualities? Why has Infinite Jest, supposedly such an influential novel, become a paper weight, a talking point, a bench-mark of high- and low-brow intellectuality? Why has no one (or, more accurately, why does everyone think that no one) actually read the thing?
On the Fine Art of the Footnote | Literary Hub
In fact, what all of these works show—from Nabokov and Wallace to Danielewski and Boully—is that experimentation quickly stops being experimental when it works well, and gives way to progression. Expanding the limits of storytelling is not the job of all storytellers, and some attempts at this have failed to produce worthwhile results, but what the aforementioned artists have proven is that once we accept a new form—i.e., once it’s stripped of its novelty—we allow ourselves to see just how useful and radical and profound it can be.
An Open Letter to Thomas Pynchon | Thought Catalog
Listen, Tom. Can I call you Tom? I guess it doesn’t matter what you prefer, does it? Okay, so Tom it is, then. So, Tom. Listen. Never come out of hiding. Stay hidden. Don’t do interviews. Don’t allow your picture to be taken.
The Art of Dialogue: A Symposium | The Millions
Everybody, shut up. I realize that a group of writers like yourselves would jump all over the chance to point out the irony of me beginning a symposium on dialogue by telling everyone to shut up, but I don’t want to hear it, okay? Spare me. Let’s just get this over with. Jane Smiley, let’s begin with you.
The Art of the Epigraph | The Millions
“I love epigraphs. Everything about them. I love the white space surrounding the words. I love the centered text, the dash of the attribution. I love the promise…”
Wordsmith: The Beguiling Gifts of Ali Smith | The Millions
Ali Smith, appropriately enough, is one of the few writers (along with Nabokov, Stoppard, Woolf, Wallace, and Hitchens) who qualify as a “wordsmith.” Her prose, however, isn’t as rich or ornate as some of the other wordsmiths, but no one else can mine ordinary words for such rich, emotional meaning.