Essays Archives - Page 50 of 96 - The Millions

October 25, 2012

Elegy for a Grey Cat: On Grief, Books, and His Dark Materials 15


For grief there’s A Year of Magical Thinking, for breakups there’s A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, but what could I read when I lost my cat? Cats usually show up in books as witches or set dressing for spinsters. Then I thought of Philip Pullman.

October 23, 2012

The Defeated Write History: Chinua Achebe’s There Was a Country 6


Over two million Biafrans – primarily civilians and disproportionately children – perished. Biafra is now largely forgotten outside the region, but one of Africa’s best known authors has just published a book which he certainly hopes will bring it back to our collective consciousness.

October 17, 2012

Timing Is Everything: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 3


There are few iron facts in the crapshoot of the literary life, but here’s one: In book publishing — no less than in music, war, and sex — timing is everything.

October 8, 2012

Salman Rushdie Meets Super Mario 8


A religious tyrant decides that Salman Rushdie should die for writing a “blasphemous” book. For ten years he is forced to flee from one safe-house to another with no one for company but his bodyguards and an increasingly estranged wife. How does he pass the time? How about video games?

October 4, 2012

Susanna Moore, Cheryl Strayed, and the Place Where the Writers Work 8


What matters is good writing, what matters is that there are people who love books enough to press them into your hands in far-off cities. We are here for the books, but I think it’s easy to get distracted by our longing for success and forget this.

October 3, 2012

My Father’s Guitar and Other Imaginary Things 2


I pulled up and looked at the guitar, and I thought, Hey, that’s not my father’s guitar! It was nothing but a cheap blonde Alvarez! I mean, if I could dream a guitar up out of thin air, what else, over the years, had I imagined?

October 2, 2012

Shakespeare as God 9


For me, reading Shakespeare is like going to church, except that in place of a God I could never and wouldn’t want to believe in, I “commune,” so to speak, with a mind that seems to comprehend all others and enforces no doctrinal obedience. This community of believers embraces anyone who has ever seen, heard, or read a word of Shakespeare’s and been moved to wonder and reflection. That’s what I call a catholic church.

October 1, 2012

Thirty Years of Re-Reading Lucky Jim 11


Thirty-plus years after reading Lucky Jim for the first time, I don’t remember exactly what I thought of the book, why it struck the chord it did with me, why it would turn out to be one of the most important books in my life.

September 28, 2012

I Want to Be a Book: On Becoming A Writer 17


My father is in Liberia, where there’s a civil war, and he’s writing about it for the newspapers. He loves me, he misses me, he’s sorry he and my mother are no longer together. He hopes I still read as much as I did.

September 27, 2012

The New Wave: On the State of Indian Fiction in America 4


For all the merits of these books, the question remains: is this literary boomlet an anomaly, a coincidence, or a harbinger?