Essays Archives - Page 81 of 101 - The Millions

June 22, 2010

The Elusive Omniscient 10


What seems key about the novel is that what we think of as a historical evolution—or a descent from a unified to a fragmented perspective—isn’t an evolution at all. In fact, the novel has always been insecure. It’s just that the manifestation of its insecurity has changed over time.

June 21, 2010

My Grandmother, the Chinese Censor 14


My grandmother is ninety-two and the cherished matriarch of my family, but even before she learned that my novel was set in her homeland, before she knew anything about it other than that I was writing it, calling her had become an ordeal. Her idea of conversation is what most consider interrogation.

June 11, 2010

The Happy Ghost 13


Ghostwriting used to be book publishing’s dirty little secret. No more. Today a growing cadre of writers are discovering that checking their ego at the door and telling someone else’s story can make them very successful, very rich and, in at least one case, as close to happy as most writers will ever get.

June 9, 2010

The Trick of It 4


Childhood and adolescence are the great gateway experiences to adulthood, middle-age, the so-called golden years, and then decrepitude. All that, waiting to be unpacked. By that time it’s too big for a backpack. We’re talking about a whole civilization you’ve buried in your backyard.

June 8, 2010

Climbing a Tree, Uncovering a Duck: Writers on Writing 13


I’ve always sought out writing metaphors and similes because they articulate the strangeness, joy, and frustrations of such an abstract activity, one that requires you to dream and to focus at the same time.

June 4, 2010

The Savage Detectives Machete 9


Traditionally Spanish publishers stuff their books with introductions and notes. You have to skip the fifty pages of critical essays to read the twelve pages of poems. Although I don’t think this novel needs all of that, an answer key, a cheat sheet, what in Argentina they call a machete, might do.

June 1, 2010

Linguistic Revenge: An Alexander Theroux Primer 12


Defending his prose, Theroux once likened it to “a Victorian attic.” He delivers more inner life than outer, more desire for vengeance than for anything else, and more sheer stuff per page — stuff you don’t expect — than any other novelist.

May 25, 2010

Ayn Rand, Rand Paul and Utopian Schemes 42


Conservative “utopias” reject the idea that government or planning of any kind can make the world a better place. Here’s why that’s not utopian: that’s how civilization started.

May 24, 2010

Haruki Murakami and the Art of the Day 12


What appealed to me most about Murakami’s essay was the way it joined something very big, like writing a novel, with something very small, like what time each day to go to bed.

May 20, 2010

Skills and Interests 23


I see now that writing has proven at least as costly as a pony could have ever been.