Essays Archives - Page 79 of 105 - The Millions

November 24, 2010

The Last Pen Pal 5


While mankind strives to improve itself to death, some of us want no part of it.

November 19, 2010

Consciousness on the Page: A Primer on the Novels of Nicholson Baker 2


Nicholson Baker understands how often people think about sex, but he also understands that, often times, they just think about shoelaces — and he understands those thoughts of sex and shoelaces aren’t as far apart, in form or in content, as they might at first seem.

November 18, 2010

Aleksandar Hemon’s Jumbo Lexicon 4


Hemon evidently loves the dictionary, but does not use it as a means to demonstrate his intellectual superiority. He delights instead in sharing with us what he’s just discovered.

November 16, 2010

“Who Will There Be to Talk To?” 5


My dad is not a writer, though his camp letters to me many years ago betrayed an ability to fashion the written word in a surprisingly vigorous manner, particularly when stacked up against the troubled verb conjugations of his spoken words. “What do you mean, Dad, a manuscript?” I asked.

November 12, 2010

Snake Meat and Reefer: Horacio Castellanos Moya 4


Moya’s novels read like gonzo thrillers or amphetamine-fuelled nightmares. In between explosions, stabbings, mass snake-bites, and stampedes, an image of San Salvador and Salvadoran society at large starts to come together in flashes, like the picture in a zoetrope.

November 11, 2010

Strange Flowers and Gubbinals: On Teaching and Pain 2


What teacher has not felt this pain—the pain of the audible yawn from the kid in the back row just as you launch into the lesson you worked on for an hour and a half—or worse, the lesson you spent only ten minutes preparing and are now feeling vulnerable about?

November 10, 2010

Salinger in Vienna 9


Part of the sadness here comes, of course, from a young woman being robbed, senselessly and viciously, of her life. But it is sad, too, in the way it deprived a young man, a man who hadn’t even known her that well, the luxury of remembering her without bitterness, of being able to ask lightheartedly: “I wonder what So-and-So is up to?”

November 9, 2010

Sunday Mornings 9


Since my kids won’t be old enough to read this for a few more years, by which time they’ll probably hate me for other reasons, I’ll say this out loud: I sometimes fantasize about a life without them.

November 1, 2010

The Soul-Sucking Suckiness of B.R. Myers 75


And so he whirled mirthlessly on, flourishing the word “prose” like a magic wand, working pale variations on his “Reader’s Manifesto.” Take that, Toni Morrison! In your face, Jonathan Franzen!

October 29, 2010

What We Teach When We Teach Writers: On the Quantifiable and the Uncertain 25


“I think the single most defining characteristic of a writer” – I found myself saying to a friend the other day, when she asked my thoughts on the teaching of writing – “I mean the difference between a writer and someone who ‘wants to be a writer,’ is a high tolerance for uncertainty.”