Essays Archives - Page 81 of 106 - The Millions

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.”

October 28, 2010

Warning! Teenagers Inside: The Appeal of the Young Protagonist 7


Doesn’t every reader, male or female, young or old, find that phase of life to be particularly dramatic, moving, screwed up, and beautiful?

October 27, 2010

The Sorry State of the Rejection Letter 40


Sad but true, the rejection letter, like so many things in book publishing, is a shadow of what it used to be.

October 26, 2010

The Perils and Pleasures of ‘Idle’ Parenting 4


I give my Idler book a big hug for bucking our stateside Be Perfect Do Everything Under the Sun child-rearing culture. Tom Hodgkinson’s answer to almost all of our must-do’s and have’s — from Tae Kwon Do classes to extravagant vacations — is a firm but friendly “Don’t do it!” Just stay on the couch to ponder life.

October 21, 2010

Shaving Cream and Heart Attacks and Learning When To Fear 3


These are the things my son James has been afraid of in the 16-months that he’s been alive: The grinding blender, the roaring vacuum, disembodied voices on the speaker phone, the time I pantomimed a broken leg, being put to bed alone in his crib.

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.