August 17, 2009

Summer of My Discontent 13


Sometimes I read a novel that drags and before long I have spurned books in favor of internet television, Calvin and Hobbes, and puerile blogs.

August 7, 2009

Book Lovers 7


It starts out innocently. I recommend Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son. “I think you’d like Johnson,” I say, after reading one of his short story drafts. “The violence and the tenderness together. ‘Emergency’ will knock you out.”

August 5, 2009

Fillet of Mockingbird in a Gladwell Reduction Sauce 11


In his most recent article for The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell asserts that “one way to make sense” of To Kill a Mockingbird “is to start with Big Jim Folsom.” It’s a thesis that rings all the Gladwell bells. There’s the near-nonsequiter. There’s the insistence that to understand something you thought you already understood, you […]

August 4, 2009

Nabokov, Wallace, and the Incredible Shrinking Book 3


I was vaguely shocked and cautiously appalled to learn last week that Vladimir Nabokov’s “new” novel, The Original of Laura, due for release in August, isn’t, in fact, much of a novel at all. “This very unfinished work reads largely like an outline, full of seeming notes-to-self, references to source material, self-critique, sentence fragments and […]

August 3, 2009

Writing for Free 5


This HuffPo writer is right. Not paying writers is not a business model. Or if it is, it’s not a sustainable model. She touches on many good points in this debate, namely that only those that can afford to write for free will do so, meaning that we’ll increasingly be hearing from the idle rich […]

July 31, 2009

My Future Nemesis 8


When I was in graduate school, a good friend of mine decided I needed a nemesis. She already had one – or many, depending on the day – but my particular nemesis would be chosen on aesthetic grounds. This would be a classmate whose work in some way hurt my own: their short stories and […]

July 22, 2009

Free is a Complicated Word, or, The Idea Coincidence 2


Sonya Chung’s first novel, Long for This World, will be released by Scribner in March 2010. She is currently at work on a second novel, Sebastian & Frederick. You can learn more about Sonya and her work at Here’s how it happens: an idea, or a question, or a theme begins to take shape […]

July 17, 2009

Trope is the New Meme 9


A few years ago it felt like one could scarcely read a think-piece in any newspaper or magazine without coming across some mention of the word “meme.” Now it seems as though the new meme is the word “trope.” Trope is everywhere. One recent incarnation was in Peggy Noonan’s column about Sarah Palin in last […]

July 13, 2009

In Defense of the Mom Book: Picks for Olive Kitteridge Fans 7


In the comment section of our most recent The Millions Top Ten post, I wrote that Olive Kitteridge, this year’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of linked short stories by Elizabeth Strout, was beautiful and moving, and that it caught me by surprise. What surprised me, I guess, was that I liked it at all. I’d only […]

July 9, 2009

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Designing a Book Jacket…” 8


Sonya Chung is a freelance writer and creative writing teacher who nourishes her split personality by living part-time in the S. Bronx and part-time in rural PA. She writes and grows vegetables in both places. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Threepenny Review, BOMB Magazine, and Sonora Review, among others. Her first novel, […]