"The book that launched a million blog posts titled 'What We Talk About…' (but don’t blame it for that, please), Raymond Carver’s 1981 book is one of the most important collections of the 20th century, complete with all the hard luck, bad relationships, and occasional death for which the author is known and, yes, loved.”
"How do you pick just one book by the 2013 Nobel Prize winner who has made a career out of writing short fiction? A difficult task, no doubt, but this 1978 volume that uses one single character as the centerpiece and splinters out from there is a uniquely interesting — and successful — experiment in short fiction."
Author Tom Perrotta (Election, Little Children) takes on the age-old advice of writing what you know in this candid discussion for Big Think. He also talks about his process in writing his 1998 novel Election, a novel that was adapted for film starring Reese Witherspoon.
“If you are lucky you’ll eventually find a voice or find a subject matter that you’re passionate about. That to me is really the crucial thing, somehow having your work connect with your obsessions and your passions.”
Stephen King believes in killing your darlings. George Orwell says if it's possible to cut a word out, always cut it. And Kurt Vonnegut says to start as close to the end as possible. When it comes to writing, we can all use a little bit of advice. BuzzFeed.com compiled a list of 30 invaluable nuggets of wisdom from our favorite writers. From Stephen King to Toni Morrison to Neil Gaiman, these quick hits will inspire you to keep going.
Read the rest of the article here.
Jhumpa Lahiri sits down with The New Yorker and reveals how she grew up reading Little Women, her own mysterious relationship to writing, and the importance of taking her time when it comes to her process.
“The key is to try to understand the elements that are failing and why. And then you move to the next draft with a little bit more clarity. Because of that, when I do write the 949th flawed draft that leads to the 950th successful one, it’s a matter of analyzing the flaws.“
For the final Bookmark This of the year, the PEN Center USA staff selected books to give even the most discerning people. From your too-cheerful aunt to your male friend with relationship problems, they’ve got you covered. And don’t forget to chime in with your own humorous book ideas below.
This week’s Bookmark features an essay from the Bennington Writing Seminar’s faculty blog “From the Vortex” by author Dinah Lenney tackling the age old question, “Why do we write?” In her thoughtful essay titled "Singing Lessons," the creative nonfiction author writes about the sometimes safe choices we make when writing, only sticking to what we know, never taking a risk.
“Not so long ago, in a classroom in L.A., I asked a group of students, 'Off the top of your heads, why do you write?' 'It’s a compulsion,' said one. 'It’s my job,' said another. Several expressed the desire 'to reach a reader.' Two insisted they use language to make sense of their lives. But it was the guy sitting just across the table who got to me: 'Why do I write?' he said. 'Because I can’t sing.'
Which made me laugh and remember and consider: who thinks she can? Who’s that sure of herself? Be suspicious of her, that’s what I’m saying. Be suspicious of any artist—singer, painter, writer—who doesn’t doubt herself; who isn’t willing to risk what she knows and engage with what she doesn’t every time.”
Read the rest of the essay here.
For more on Lenney, click here.
In this week’s Writers’ Reel, listen to author David Sedaris as he reads from his hilarious essay “SantaLand Diaries,” about his stint as a Macy’s elf. The essay is part of his classic collection titled Holidays on Ice.
Listen and get in to the holiday spirit!
This year, PEN Center USA presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Joan Didion at the 23rd Literary Awards Festival. The acclaimed essayist and author of groundbreaking novels The Year of Magical Thinking, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The White Album, just to name a few, is a literary legend. Today marks the celebrated writer’s 79th birthday. Wish her a happy birthday by reading 15 of her essays, collected on The Electric Typewriter site.