by Emily St. John Mandel
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept is a staggering accomplishment, an exquisite and often ecstatic rendition of a tumultuous affair: “Jupiter has been with Leda, I thought, and now nothing can avert the Trojan wars. All legend will be broken, but who will escape alive?”0
by Ethan Hauser
Ask any writer about the rules he’s heard throughout the years, and he will be able to recite a litany as deeply embedded as the Lord’s Prayer. Show, don’t tell. Write what you know. The first sentence is key. The last sentence is key. All writing is rewriting. No adverbs. No one aside from you finds your dreams interesting. You should never write in the second person.3
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Mark O'Connell looks at Tommy Wiseau’s "The Room". the "Face-Palm Fresco Affair" and explores the secrets of viral fame.Buy for $1.99
“There are people out there who want you to write their novels for them,” observes professional ghostwriter Sari Botton. Over at Scratch, she shares some advice for breaking into the industry. Also, the magazine has made her longer article about “the spooky finances behind her gigs” free to read – all you have to do is register.
Recommended Reading: “Joseph Brodsky in Venice (1981)” by Campbell McGrath, one of the best poets in South Florida.
People like to think that the more books they read, the better people they’ll become. But is that really true? The answer’s unclear. But one thing does seem apparent: reading more books might make you better at bullying people.
Five finalists have been named for this year’s PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction: Daniel Alarcón’s At Night We Walk in Circles, Percival Everett’s Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, (Year in Reading alum) Joan Silber’s Fools, and Valerie Trueblood’s Search Party: Stories of Rescue. One winner will be selected on April 2, 2014, and a celebratory dinner will be held in its honor on May 10. You can read up on all of the finalists over here.
Between the 40 Towns project organized by Jeff Sharlet’s Dartmouth students and the newly unveiled Vanishing Point project from Duncan Murrell’s students at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, it seems abundantly clear that college students are better at putting together web publications than 99% of established publishing outfits. Begin your tour with Christine Delp’s look at a blind man who makes his own martinis, and then check out other stories such as Ge Jin’s photographic essay on Chinese university students.
Recommended Reading: Joseph Fasano’s “Coda,” which is The Missouri Review’s poem of the week. “Now he is listening for beginning./Now he is lying/among that sinew,/asking, as a boy would, where his song goes.”
We couldn’t get enough of Mallory Ortberg’s “Dirtbag Hamlet,” and now she presents “Dirtbag Phantom Tollbooth.” “KING AZAZ: Please, my dear boy! Without these sisters, our kingdom will decay into chaos MILO: sisters eh nice.”
Lena Dunham is the new voice of the Archie comics generation. The Girls creator will write four issues of the famous comic, coming out in 2015. She’s not the only woman joining the comics industry. DC Comics is adding a Native American teenage girl, inspired by the real Canadian Aboriginal teen activist Shannen Koostachin, to the Justice League United.
Killing off your characters is never an easy feat. At The New York Times, thriller writer Alex Berenson discusses his reservations on killing the hero of his spy series. “John Wells has markedly enriched my life — an impressive feat for a man who doesn’t exist.” The eighth installment, The Counterfeit Agent, just came out.
The idea of having to diagram a sentence still gives us nightmares, but Pop Chart Lab has diagrammed opening lines of famous novels, including those as simple as Slaughterhouse-Five and as complex as Don Quixote.
“Her characters sleepwalk to their certain fates through artificial pocket universes, each one seemingly constructed to satisfy the curiosity of an inhumane, omniscient narrator. Few writers have been so consistently and brilliantly unkind.” On Muriel Spark’s The Bachelors.
Is it possible to read fiction by an actor without thinking of them as the character that made them famous? It’s a question many people asked when reading James Franco, and it’s a question they’re likely to ask again when reading One More Thing, a new book of short stories by The Office star B. J. Novak. At Open Letters Monthly, Justin Hickey reviews Novak’s collection.
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Read More The Millions Top 10 January 2014
The Goldfinch Donna Tartt
Selected Stories Alice Munro
The Flamethrowers Rachel Kushner
The Luminaries Eleanor Catton
The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose Alice Munro
Draw it With Your Eyes Closed Paper Monument/n+1
Bleeding Edge Thomas Pynchon
The Lowland Jhumpa Lahiri
The Interestings Meg Wolitzer
Just Kids Patti Smith