Books: As with food and clothing, they’re a commodity that elicits status anxiety for many people, particularly the insecure. And wherever there is status anxiety, there are potential minefields. We need to tread with the lightness of meringue.
You may have heard that our own Emily St. John Mandel has a new book on shelves. The book depicts a post-apocalyptic future in which a group of nomadic actors deal with the aftermath of a devastating flu pandemic. Claire Cameron (who’s also written for The Millions) reviews the book for The Globe and Mail.
For structure: Choose a story you admire and want to understand more deeply from a craft perspective. Read it several times. Read it as many times as you can stomach. Outline it paragraph-by-paragraph, section-by-section. What happens in each paragraph? What is the function of that paragraph? If the story is divided into sections, what is the purpose of each of those sections? Then write your own story using the outline of the story you admire. This is not a quick exercise. Give yourself time to read, think, process, and write deliberately. Give yourself a week or two.
The Millennial generation of writers can learn from Keegan in that she allowed herself to sound and to be fully 22, to explore what that meant and to celebrate the value of a young perspective, but never sounded like she was writing a generic think-piece on ‘What It’s Like to Be Young Today.’
I struggled, quite a bit, writing this review. Reviewing books, while easy in certain ways — you have certain aspects of form to follow, there are certain features of books that cannot go unremarked: one must write about character, about language, about technique — and really a rather simple process (much simpler, it would seem, than writing books), can also be a pain. Especially, frustratingly enough, when the book is really good.
With the advent of e-readers, books on the subway are getting harder and harder to spot. It takes dedication to get a sense of what people are reading these days. At The Awl, Ben Dolnick sets out to catalogue a week’s worth of sightings, which included a man reading Cloud Atlas and The Stranger and a teenage girl reading Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. You could also read our own Nick Moran on the question of whether e-readers are really green.