Essays Archives - Page 79 of 104 - The Millions

October 18, 2010

Burned 12


Michael Westen and I had work we liked, and we don’t have it anymore. We’re burned, and we’re spending a whole lot of time trying to get back into the game.

October 15, 2010

The Sixth Memo of Italo Calvino 6


On the eve of his departure for the United States and with five memos written, Calvino died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage. In the book, the sixth memo is written in the faded letters like an invitation to finish the list for him, as if it could (and should) be almost anything.

October 14, 2010

James Ross and The Agony of the One-Hit Wonder 13


James Ross published just one novel in his lifetime.  This is a rare thing because of a paradox that lies at the heart of novel writing: it demands such sustained focus, such persistence, so much raw pig-headed stubbornness that anyone who does it once almost invariably does it again, and again, and again.  Once is almost never enough.

October 13, 2010

‘You Like Sandra Cisneros, Don’t You?’ On Reading Outside Your Culture 3


“Just wait and see,” she said, as we ate samosas outside of my dorm. “Right now, you’re an English major set on law school. A few months from now, you won’t be. You’ll get caught up in this writing thing.”

October 12, 2010

Our Meals, Ourselves: A Short History of Food Writing 5


“Tell me what you eat,” wrote Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, “and I will tell you what you are.”

October 11, 2010

Gratuitous: How Sexism Threatens to Undermine the Internet 12


I like following Lisa’s blog because, for whatever reason, her narrative is compelling. Following it is somewhat akin to watching a reality TV show (Not one of the ones where they try to out-dance each other or diet for money, but one that just follows someone’s daily life). She’s my Jersey Shore.

October 8, 2010

In Praise of Unlikable Characters 25


Authors are too timid, it seems to me sometimes, in the face of the demand for conventionally sympathetic characters. “I didn’t like any of the characters” is a common Amazon reviewer’s refrain—or, I don’t know, maybe that’s just what they say about the books that I write. They say it like it’s a bad thing.

October 6, 2010

The Hardy Boys Need No Eulogy 9


Inertia kept the long line of Hardy adventures on the top level of my bookshelf until I finally packed them all in a box and packed the box down in the basement, exhumed only when I decided to eulogize the brothers here.

October 5, 2010

The Un-Ironist: A Primer on Douglas Coupland’s Novels 9


How ironic that Douglas Coupland, the man who popularized the term “Generation X”, turns out to be one of the least ironic novelists of his generation. His novels may, on the whole, be loaded with typographical trickery, brand names of the nanosecond, slacking youngsters, and Simpsons references, but he’s also deep into a suite of timelessly, radically un-hip novelistic themes.

October 4, 2010

Does School Kill Writing? 19


School wasn’t my death as a writer, it was my birth; and it would not have happened without the guidance and support of inspiring teachers, access to magnificent libraries, and every student’s most precious gift, free time.