Recently we asked the kind folks who follow us on Twitter what book(s) they’re looking forward to reading this summer. Here are some of the responses.
Deborah: 99 Stories of God, Joy Williams
Heather: This summer, it’ll be Amy Hempel’s Collected Works, Ben Marcus’ The Anchor Book, Confederacy of Dunces, and a few others.
Kathryn: Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan. It just sounds hilarious.
Shirley: When Opposites Attack, by Jo Maeder
Robyn: Opportunity, Montana, OF COURSE. Also The Little Friend and Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity.
Martha: Look Homeward, Angel and The Moviegoer.
Daniel: Rereading Hero With A Thousand Faces this week, and will soon start reading the complete Sherlock Holmes books. And because I will be in Italy soon, I might read Italian Hours by Henry James.
And add your own below! What book or books are you eager to get a jump on this summer?
The WBN brain trust is debating whether to watch the new adaptation of The Great Gatsby: I’m curious to see what old Baz has done with it, and it can’t be any worse than the 1974 mess of a production. (Can it?) Even if it does stink, the film won’t affect my appreciation for the novel.
What makes me hesitant (besides the concession stand prices) is that I’m really not in any kind of mood or position to reread the book. And I know that if we were to see the film, I would have to pull Fitzgerald off the shelf and give him another whirl.
We’ve been getting a whole lot of “Should I/Shouldn’t I” MFA questions of late. I don’t know how to explain that–it’s not even application season–but nonetheless, yesterday I did a bit of reading on the topic, and found two articles that are not helpful in any way.
This piece on The Awl, “What Writing Programs Ought to Teach You When They Teach You About Writing,” is brilliant, and tons o’ fun. In the first half, Jim Behrle takes a few amusing potshots at creative writing programs, and in the second half he discusses six topics that writing programs should cover instead of covering what they do *^*(*&^ cover.
Among these are: read more
This interview with Austin writer Neal Pollack is a must-read. In it, Pollack goes into depth about his income and sales figures as a writer, as well as his writing roots and self-publishing.
He also says this!
“Austin isn’t the capitol of Texas ‘douchebaggery’ like it is now, but it’s an up-and-coming place.”
Read to page 2 to find out why.
A fascinating article in a recent edition of The New Yorker dealt with one of the crucial points of contention regarding linguistics. The topic is the disagreement between two schools of thought concerning the use and evolution of the English language. The rival factions are the prescriptivists—believers in hard and fast rules concerning writing and speaking, and the descriptivists, who are more flexible regarding the validity of the changing nature of language. The impetus for the article is a book, The Language Wars: A History of Proper English, by English journalist Henry Hitchings, who is dubbed a descriptivist by the essay’s author, Joan Acocella.
It is a very interesting read, and you do not need to be a language geek to enjoy it. I am not one, but that doesn’t mean that I place myself squarely into the prescriptivist camp. Rules are important. But knowing when to break those rules is a crucial element in the expansion of art. read more
No, you don’t have to go put on your (secret) copy of Yanni: Live at the Acropolis. This visualization exercise is quick ‘n’ simple, kinda fun, and not at all new agey. (But if you want to put on Yanni, put on Yanni. Far be it from me to tell you when you can and cannot listen to your Yanni. And my Yanni. Our Yanni. Yanni belongs to us all. All for Yanni, and Yanni for all.)
Imagine yourself holding a published copy of your own book. Maybe it’s hot off the presses, your first copy. Maybe you’ve just signed it “To self, with love”. Whatever. It’s your book, the result of months/years of toil. And now–because, you know, all shit is fleeting–it’s time to stuff it in your bookshelf and move on.
Go to your bookshelf read more
By Adam Rosenfield
I’m a novice writer. I can string sentences together, to the tune of 300-500 words, for a couple of small blogs, but in no way can I compare to the Ezra Kleins, Nick Kristof’s, even the Kirk Bohls of the world. When I publish a piece, people read it, maybe even tweet it, but it doesn’t cause a firestorm on ESPN, CNN or even the local news.
In high school, I was a novice runner. Yeah, I ran a sub five-minute mile once, had a sub 18-minute 5k, and even ran a large half-marathon where I finished in the top 50, but in no way could I even compare to the fastest runner in Dallas-Fort Worth, or famous American runners like Alan Webb, Dathan Ritzenheim or Galen Rupp. When I placed high in a race, I maybe received a medal and got some congratulations in the local newspaper, but my finish didn’t cause an uproar on message boards, or get me a cover story in the major running magazines.
I wasn’t always a sub five-minute miler, or getting regularly published in blogs. read more
We stumbled across this Tumblr which compiles a running list of which publications pay for content and which do not. It might be helpful to some of you, despite the Tumblr format’s obvious drawbacks. This one portrays itself as “A place to list whether, and how much, magazines and websites pay their writers. We’ll post ‘em as you report ‘em. Intended to be informational, not judgmental.”
Do you guys have any sites you regularly refer to for payment info?
My New Yorkers collect dust, Tin House and Ploughshares these days go right to the shelf, and I never seem to have time for a spot of tea and my London Review of Books. But! I read the Texas Observer cover to cover, and I wolf down the New York Review of Books and Bookforum. With so many publications and so little time, it’s interesting to see which ones we turn to and which ones we ignore.
Recently on Facebook we asked “Are there any magazines/newspapers that you always read in their entirety?” The results might give you some new publications to look into. (And note, only one daily newspaper gets a mention.) read more
Today I’m looking for some tips and tricks to help me out with my reading retention. Because I’m one of those people who within days of finishing a book will forget nearly everything I read. Scenes, characters. Entire plots. “Did you like the book?” someone will ask me. “I think so,” I’ll say. Well, what was it about? “I don’t know!”
It helps when I take notes inside the book, and flip back through them when I’m done. Of course, some people don’t like to write in their books. I need a new tack.
What are some of your strategies for retention?
by Jason Hinojosa
And I don’t just mean that it got mixed reviews, although that happened too. I mean that my brother couldn’t finish reading what I wrote. I mean that my mom said it was “too private.” I mean that my girlfriend finished the book and started to cry.
As long as I’ve been writing, I’ve understood that a writer’s most significant task is to write without fear. And by the time I began work on what would be my first published novel, I’d started doing that. I’d started writing without fear. Or rather, I’d started writing despite fear.
My first novel, The Last Lawsons, is about a family. It’s about a family that self-destructs, and it’s about the reasons why. It’s about incest, abuse, adultery, and murder. And it’s scary to write about familial evil. It’s scary to write about dark fantasies and still darker expressions of desire. But I did. I dug into the soil of my subconscious, even though some of that soil was crowded with bones. read more
OMG you guys. It’s happening. I don’t want to get your hopes up or anything, but I’ve just had the BEST idea for a story. Or maybe not an idea for a story exactly, but like, an awesome piece of dialogue:
Two guys standing on a hill overlooking LA.
Guy 1: “See that buddy? The whole city just waiting for us to make the most of it. In those buildings, our dreams are waiting to be realized.” Bounds off enthusiastically.
Guy 2, grumbling: “The city doesn’t give a shit.”
LOL isn’t that hilarious? That is so hilarious! I think this could be my first screenplay; you know, that super unique story by a young(ish) writer trying to make it, all about youngish writers trying to make it. I think that will be my ticket for making it! read more
You’re at a party and someone makes (what you assume to be) a pithy reference to The Divine Comedy, so you chuckle and/or nod your head knowingly. But! The hell if you’ve ever read Dante.
Or Joyce’s Dubliners, one of my “Of course I’ve read that book” books I’ve never read. We all have one. Or two. Or three dozen.
by William Saunders
It could be said that my opinion is that of a spoiled brat. For many years I was a journalist for big city newspapers who wore an Access All Areas pass in all kinds of interesting places. So am I, with a memory bank and notebooks full of authentic detail, giving you the old “write what you know” refrain, and suggesting you set your first novel in a creative writing class? No. I’m saying authentic detail doesn’t help fiction all that much.
Apart from anything else, research is never as exciting as the idea seems. Once you are on board the fishing boat you will be in everyone’s way, which is dispiriting. read more
by Julie Garcia
This is the question I find myself contemplating way too often recently. And by recently, I mean for the last year or so. Recently, because graduation was looming and I was still trying to figure out what to do with myself. Or recently, because I got a quill tattoo to acknowledge my insatiable love for the written word and the fact that I wanted to be forever reminded of it regardless of what I was doing or not doing with my life. Not that I should need a reminder. But you know, I’m also 21 and tattoos are cool.
Okay, let’s pretend I didn’t just say I was 21 because now you are probably rolling your eyes at my naivety. Which you’d be doing rightfully so. I am naïve. I’m also a lot of other things.
Getting back to my point, Why do I write? I’ve started a running list of reasons. read more