One striking feature of the digital-self-help literature is that it treats distraction, overload, and frazzlement almost entirely as personal challenges. If you’re stressed out and unable to concentrate, you’re not enlightened enough. Meditate harder.
How does editing a book about women’s wardrobes change a person’s view on fashion? “For me, now, after doing this book, when I walk down the street, I notice and appreciate a greater range of women. And I also sort of feel more comfortable with myself and with my own choices, my own individuality, rather than feeling that I’m missing the mark,” Sheila Heti told Rookie about her current book Women In Clothes (read our review). She also discussed her writing influences, How Should a Person Be?, and her next project.
Maya Angelou is a rapper now. The late writer’s poems have been layered with hip-hop beats for a new album, Caged Bird Songs. The album uses previous recordings of Angelou and a few made last year. ”She saw (hip-hop) as this generation’s way of speaking and conveying a message,” her grandson Colin A. Johnson said. Pair with: Our tribute to Angelou.
Elaine Kaufman supported writers at her restaurant when she was alive, and the Table 4 Writers Foundation keeps her legacy going with its grant. The third annual writers’ grants contest will award a $5,000 grand prize and two $2,500 prizes for promising writers. Applications are due by November 15 and can be submitted here. For more on Kaufman, read our own Bill Morris’s tribute.
Did your MFA program offer impractical courses like “Problems in Modern Fiction”? At the Ploughshares blog, Rebecca Makkai offers some suggestions for more useful classes, such as “Introduction to Despair,” “Pretending You’re Talking to Terry Gross When You’re Alone in the Car,” and “The Art of the Flirty Author Photo Grimace.” Pair with: Our interview with Makkai.
September is the start of many things: school, fall, football, the biggest publishing season, the return to work after the end of summer.
But what if your entire book is based on another one? What if a certain piece of information (in the cases of these books, a writer or a specific novel) is foundational to your text? How, then, should you proceed? Should you explain the referenced work so that those unfamiliar with it can enjoy your book? Or should you simply accept that some readers will fall behind and end up befuddled? It’s a tricky enterprise, and since there are as many ways to pay homage to earlier literature as there are ways to create new literature, I thought it would be useful to see how some contemporary writers approach this finicky issue.
John Yago reviews Alberto Moravia's Contempt and Agostino. “One of his great themes is how sensibility is wrecked by negotiations with other people, other classes, other individuals, and thereby reinvigorated.”