Essays Archives - Page 73 of 95 - The Millions

August 4, 2010

A Harbored Notion 10

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It would be a pity should your books sink to the depths in the fuselage belly along with your neatly folded underwear. It could happen.

August 3, 2010

On Repetition 24

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A contradictory set of truths about books and publishing in the abstract: don’t repeat yourself, and don’t write books that are too different from one another. Other writers will pillory you for the first, and publishers will be more than happy to pigeonhole you from the moment you achieve anything like success. Blow out your advance? Great. Now write the same exact book again.

July 29, 2010

In Praise of Precocious Narrators 7

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In an age of shortening attention spans and the glorification of stupidity, I find it comforting and exciting to spend time with young characters for whom books, maps, notebooks, letters, research, drawings, imagined inventions and classic films are central and essential.

July 28, 2010

In Search of Iago 5

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If we dig deep into literary villainy do we find caricature or do we find ourselves?

July 28, 2010

The Beauty That Lies in Wasted Time: On Cao Xueqin’s Dream of the Red Chamber 7

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Dream of the Red Chamber‘s doomed lovers, Jia Bao-yu and Lin Dai-yu, are as iconic in China as Romeo and Juliet are in the West. It’s also notable for its staggering length. At about twenty-eight hundred pages, the book is about twice as long as my copy of War and Peace.

July 27, 2010

Literary Endings: Pretty Bows, Blunt Axes, and Modular Furniture 13

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It’s tempting to imagine a linear spectrum of ending “types,” with tied-up-in-a-bow on one end, chopped-off-with-a-blunt-ax on the other. But really, there are so many different kinds of literary endings. What constitutes “satisfying” for different readers?

July 27, 2010

To Teach a Kid How to Read, Teach a Kid How to Think 6

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If you have not been paying attention to trends in grade school pedagogy over the last couple decades, the first thing you should know is this: The way public school students are taught to understand books looks little like the way most readers of this site probably learned themselves.

July 26, 2010

Orwell and the Tea Party 39

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George Orwell never thought that his work would outlive him by much. After all, he considered himself “a sort of pamphleteer” rather than a genuine novelist. Yet sixty years later, Orwell endures, and I am not sure that this is a good thing.

July 23, 2010

Of Human Limitations 6

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There was a divide between the books that I wanted to read, and the books that I wanted to want to read. And the latter category won over the former time and time again.

July 22, 2010

Reading in Tongues 4

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Where that translator emphasized, or rather extracted and highlighted, the poetic and romantic side of Proust, reading him in French showed just how muscular, how sinewy, Proust’s prose truly is.