Essays Archives - Page 30 of 94 - The Millions

April 9, 2014

Appetite for Risk: At the Intersection of Video Games and Literature 19


The literary world and the video games world could greatly benefit each other. Even a conversation, let alone the beginning of real collaborations and dialogues, would help each contend with their respective shortcomings.

April 9, 2014

Hug Your Darlings, Give the Moon the Finger: Writers On Delight 6


It’s miraculous that these little darlings didn’t get killed in the rewriting process.

April 4, 2014

Are We Entering a Golden Age of the Second Novel? 7


If a first novel fails to become a blockbuster, as almost all of them do, publishers are less inclined to get behind the follow-up by a writer who has gained a dubious track record but has lost that most precious of all literary selling points: novelty. Writers get only one shot at becoming The Next Big Thing.

March 28, 2014

On Literary Cravings and Aftertastes 2


I had a voracious appetite to consume certain books I’d read long ago, revisiting passages that had always been especially moving. Or — and this was fun and also eerie in its accuracy — I found myself submitting to cravings for books I had never before read but the combined language, plot, and characters of which turned out to produce the perfect meal of prose for this pregnant bibliophile.

March 21, 2014

The Dark Quotient: On Victoria Redel and Destructive Characters 0


The issue of how adults in Redel’s fiction respond to children has reemerged following the recent publication of her short story collection Make Me Do Things. The compulsion suggested by the title reflects the tendency of her characters to lurch toward problematic, even dangerous choices.

March 14, 2014

Multiplicity of Me: On Race, Fatherhood, and James Baldwin 3


I think that what makes Baldwin’s work resonate as it does is that what he describes in his writing are not necessarily historically contingent reflections on race, but moments of subjective epiphany; moments in which he realized that he was a subject upon whom the world placed certain ideas that may or may not have aligned with the person Baldwin saw himself to be.

March 13, 2014

The Writing on the Wall (Redux): The 2014 Whitney Biennial, Starring David Foster Wallace 1


As the practice of writing on paper (everything from telegrams to letters to books to Post-It notes) is increasingly devoured by technology, words on paper are evolving from widespread tools of communication into the rarefied stuff of art. As things recede, they also expand. As a result, words are becoming as legitimate as the more traditional subject matter of painting, drawing, video and sculpture.

March 12, 2014

Can #TwitterFiction Transcend Gimmickry and Become Art? 6


One afternoon in early January, I started to notice something curious happening on my Twitter feed. A series of seemingly — bafflingly! — connected retweets were popping up, a few of them from people I know but most of them from strangers, and they appeared to be telling a story.

March 7, 2014

A Closed World: On By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept 3


By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept is a staggering accomplishment, an exquisite and often ecstatic rendition of a tumultuous affair: “Jupiter has been with Leda, I thought, and now nothing can avert the Trojan wars. All legend will be broken, but who will escape alive?”

March 6, 2014

Baffling Dictums: On the Rules of Writing 11


Ask any writer about the rules he’s heard throughout the years, and he will be able to recite a litany as deeply embedded as the Lord’s Prayer. Show, don’t tell. Write what you know. The first sentence is key. The last sentence is key. All writing is rewriting. No adverbs. No one aside from you finds your dreams interesting. You should never write in the second person.