Essays Archives - Page 31 of 91 - The Millions

November 20, 2013

Act Two: A Young Playwright Grows Up 1

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Moss Hart had talent, an inhuman tolerance for work, and a pair of brass balls, but what set him apart from the thousands of other guys hanging around theater lobbies in the mid-1920s trying to catch a break was that the man was fucking relentless.

November 20, 2013

The Ragged Spawn of E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime 6

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Doctorow’s selective use of historical figures and events lends Ragtime its air of verisimilitude without robbing him of the freedom to imagine and distort and mythologize. It is, for a writer of fiction, the best of all possible worlds.

November 19, 2013

Time for Teen Fantasy Heroines to Grow Up 23

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Authors as influential as Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins have the opportunity to inspire their readers toward greatness, but they squander it miserably.

November 18, 2013

Where is all the Fiction in Space? 5

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There’s a smattering of poetry wending its way through space. But where’s the fiction drifting through the dark sea of ionized gas? Wouldn’t we send at least one Chekhov story?

November 15, 2013

Staring into the Darkness: On Reading Thrillers and Writing One 0

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There’s this nagging question of why reading about violence and the darkest corners of human experience can be interesting or even entertaining, and why there might be something in us that turns to these books, especially during our own dark times.

November 13, 2013

Apple’s Private Beach 4

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The very nature of Mavericks — open, wild, unpredictable — is ostensibly in direct opposition with the technological environment Apple cultivates in its operating systems. Techies call it the walled garden; to stick with surf metaphors, we might rather term it Apple’s private beach.

November 8, 2013

Sparks to Make Flame: On the Ideas behind Fiction 8

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Good fiction writers are nosey. I think “write what you know” is the single worst piece of writing advice. Instead, write what you’re really interested in. Write what is going to keep you awake at night; write what you don’t understand; write to figure something out. Good novels are journeys into the unknown, for their authors as well as their readers.

November 6, 2013

God is with the Lazy 1

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Cossery would rise late each day, leaving the hotel only in the afternoons, perhaps to take in the sun and watch the girls of the Luxembourg gardens. He would sit for hours at the Flore doing nothing. He wrote only when he had absolutely nothing better to do, producing a new novel roughly every decade. To waiters who asked him if he was not bored, he replied: “I am never bored when I’m with Albert Cossery.”

October 31, 2013

No Country for Greedy Men: Cormac McCarthy, Screenwriter 5

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One reviewer of The Counselor remarked that the man who wrote the script, Cormac McCarthy, appears never to have read a screenwriting manual. I can think of no higher compliment for a screenwriter.

October 31, 2013

All Happy Meals Are the Same; Every Unhappy Meal Is Unhappy in Its Own Way 1

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McDonald’s introduced me — and I would venture thousands of other kids — not only to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer but also to the notion of a classic. In 1977 and again in 1979, the fast food chain paired up with the publisher I. Waldman & Son to distribute Illustrated Classics Editions in their restaurants.