False Dichotomy vs Who Cares

Chad Harbach's new book is here! MFA vs NYC, an elegant, troll-to-fit title for the ages, identifying and reifying the Two Paths for the Writer in our time. But, Harbach's wonderful brain in The Art of Fielding and the likely excellence of every essay in this book (Emily Gould on debt!) notwithstanding, everything about this discussion leaves me cold.

Minus a certain amount of personal neurosis, I should be the exact audience at which MFA vs. NYC is aimed. I am an aspiring novelist interested in the apparatus of any system that produces stability for writers, and I have spent the last year dividing my attention almost 50/50 [...]


Writing About Dead Family Members

"I walked in and he gave me one of his looks, dropping his jaw and crossing his eyes as he rolled them back in their sockets. It was a look he assumed in all kinds of situations but that always meant the same thing: can you believe this?" —The Guardian excerpts a section from John Jeremiah Sullivan's 'Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter's Son' (out March 14 … in the UK, and — updated to include — out about eight years ago here in America. Sorry about that. Still a good read!).


If This House Could Write a Book, If This Book Could Build a House…

Matt Pericoli, a creative writing professor, teaches a course called the "Laboratory of Literary Architecture," which includes an assignment to "physically build the literary architecture of a text." The Times excerpted from his students' work last week, and the results are fascinating. Here's Pericoli describing the project:

Each student brings to class a novel, a short story or an essay whose inner workings he or she knows intimately. We start with the plot, the subject or simply a feeling that the student has about the text. We break the piece of writing down into its most basic elements and analyze the relationship of each part to the overall [...]


Blind Spot

Teju Cole has a beautiful, odd little piece in Granta on writing and knowledge and ophthalmological ailments:

One night in April 2011, I stayed up late, reading the final pages of Virginia Woolf’s diaries. Those pages, written in late 1940 and early 1941, were about the loss of her London home in the war, her terrible nervousness about the ongoing air raids, the unexpected death of Joyce, her love for Leonard, her engagement with literature and, above all, her losing battle against depression. But the pages held a radiance too, because of Woolf’s prose, the intensity of her attention to life, and the epiphanic moments that intermittently illuminated [...]