… when I read George Eliot, I read her for the descriptions of weather. Perhaps that’s the wrong way to read George Eliot, but how comforting, the way she describes light moving over trees and lying on a bench and somebody’s foot there … I think she has a much…
“She didn’t quite know how, though, as she hadn’t ever tried writing in the past. ‘I thought I could never write a proper book, I’d never done it before. But I thought I could write a sequence. Then I had a chapter. The next thing I knew I was turning acting down,’ she says. ‘I wanted to find out what happened. I don’t outline or anything, I don’t know whodunit … I really wanted to know what on earth happened to this guy, and the only way to find out was to write it.’ She tentatively sent the finished manuscript to an editor friend, to find out if she should ‘shove it under the bed or keep going’, and shortly afterwards ended up with a two-book deal. Then came the awards, the sales and the critical acclaim.”—Tana French, making this stuff look EASY
“Let’s not mince words: this is all deeply silly. And that, of course, is the point. On trial in Shandy are the masturbatory elements of scholarship; distractible humans and their whimsical hobbies; the proliferating literary phenomenon of “biographical freebooters;” and self-involved males who can argue (with a Voltairean antilogic) finer points of causality while, upstairs, poor Mrs. Shandy lies in excruciating, protracted labor. Few novels — even few early novels — have less believability in them. And yet Shandy, in all its digressive, distracted, ADD glory, captures something of life that narratives of linear focus rarely can.”—Ted Scheinman, “Tristram Shandy, Dilettante: Laurence Sterne and the Pleasures of Attention-Deficit Literature.”
“You would think it doesn’t need clarification, but apparently it does: When told to talk about a book you admire, it’s best to choose one you’re already at least opened.”—This and more unwritten rules of writing class from Joe Griffin.
“Papa himself said in a Paris Review interview, “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.” Hemingway, for all his faults, possessed a first-rate shit detector, and one wishes he had passed the apparatus on to his progeny.”—47 Endings Can’t Ruin A Great Novel: Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms by Michael Bourne
“Would you want to read a war novel called Love Is One Fervent Fire? Or Death Once Dead? Or, God forbid, One Event Happeneth to Them All? Evidently, Hemingway considered all these and many more even worse ones before making a note to himself, “Shitty titles,” and going with A Farewell to Arms.”—47 Endings Can’t Ruin A Great Novel: Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms by Michael Bourne