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  • Spread @12:10AM, 2017-01-24
    Tags: lewis lapham, writers,   

    “To be a writer was an important thing” —Lapham 

    Excerpt from an interview with Lewis H. Lapham, editor emeritus of Harper’s Magazine and founding editor of Lapham’s Quarterly. Courtesy of The Millions

    Trouble is that writers have been discounted in the American scheme of things over the last 50 years now. I’m old enough to remember — I’m at Yale in 1952 to 1956, and to be a writer was an important thing. There was the belief that writers could change the world. And the heroes were people like Camus, Yeats, even Auden, and Hemingway, Mailer. The notion that literature was going to come up with important answers. Solzhenitsyn — the novel as heroic. And again, that’s an idea that comes out of the 19th century. That’s Victor Hugo in exile from the Second Empire in France. That’s what Flaubert was trying to do. Balzac was trying to do the same thing. Dickens. William Dean Howells in this country, Twain — the writer was a heroic kind of figure, or at least had that possibility. That’s what Mailer was trying to be.

    And in the 1960s, they actually had writers on the cover of Time magazine. I can remember that really, before 1962, Time magazine had on the cover Mailer, Roth, Bellow, not Vonnegut yet, and maybe not Heller. And then it was all over — No, Updike. And then I don’t think they had another writer, then they had Solzhenitsyn on the cover somewhere in the ‘80s. And then for Christ’s sake, they come up with Jonathan Franzen, and compare him to Tolstoy. I mean, that’s farcical.

    And part of that I think is the atomic bomb. Once you get the atomic bomb, then man now has it in his power to destroy the Earth. Oppenheimer, quoting Shiva: I am the destroyer of the worlds. That’s what he said looking at the nuclear explosion. And so the heroes of our age are essentially money guys or politicians with their hand on the button or cosmetic surgeons and scientists who are going to discover the way for us to live to 150 years, and the Silicon Valley people, you know, the magicians.

    And so the writer seems to have less — Nader explained this to me once. Nader said that when he, in the ‘60s, published Unsafe at Any Speed, within a year, there were hearings, rules got changed, safety belts got put on cars. And this was genuinely true in the ‘60s. Protest the Vietnam War. The Civil Rights Movement — civil rights legislation goes in with Johnson. It had an effect. Now, it doesn’t have an effect. We all know that we’re being governed by crooks, but we make a joke out of it. That’s Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.

    Read the rest from The Millions

  • Spread @4:56AM, 2016-07-13
    Tags: , , , writers   

    Why Proust is essential reading 

    On the occasion of the French author’s 145th birthday, LitHub invited six authors to sing his praises, and explain why his work remains essential reading. Siri Hustvedt, Edmund White, André Aciman, Francine Prose, Aleksandar Hemon, and Daniel Mendelsohn all weighed in. Mendelsohn had a particularly modern take on the value of reading Proust’s densely written, heavily detailed, slowly unfolding opus:

    Recently I was traveling on a train next to a young man—a recent college graduate, I guessed—who was reading a hugely fat Victorian novel. Since I teach literature, this made me happy. But as I watched him I noticed that roughly every 90 seconds he’d fish out his iPhone to check his text messages. After a while this reflexive tic made me so nervous that I moved to another seat. As a writer as well as a teacher, I found it nerve-wracking to think that this is how some people are reading novels these days—which is to say, not really reading them, because you can’t read anything serious in two-minute spurts, or with your mind half on something else, like the messages you may be getting. Multitasking is the great myth of the present era: you cannot, in fact, do two things at the same time.

    Especially if one of them requires considerable resources of attentiveness and intellectual commitment. To my mind, a very important reason to have a go at Proust right now—which is to say, to read him with a mind as receptive as his was large—is to exercise one’s powers of commitment…

    Read the rest from Longreads

  • Spread @3:31AM, 2016-02-04
    Tags: , joan didion, , writers   

    From Didion the Writer to Didion the Legend 

    Joan Didion arrived in Los Angeles in 1964 on the way to becoming one of the most important writers of her generation, a cultural icon who changed L.A.’s perception of itself. Lili Anolik mines the author’s early years to examine Didion before all that.

    Read the rest from Vanity Fair

  • Titus Toledo @2:29AM, 2016-01-11
    Tags: bernard vonnegut, brothers, , writers   

    The Brothers Vonnegut 

    Kurt Vonnegut is now known as a famous author, but for most of his life he lived in the shadow of his brilliant scientist brother, Bernard Vonnegut.

    Source: Wired

  • Spread @12:08AM, 2015-08-14
    Tags: , pens, writers,   

    Writers & Their Favorite Tools 

    I am not alone in my intense relationship to the tools of the writing trade, so I thought I’d ask some writers I deeply admire about their favorite pens and pencils. The first person who came to mind was Mary Norris, author of Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen and a copy editor for The New Yorker.

    Source: Writers and Their Favorite Tools ‹ Literary Hub

  • Titus Toledo @1:53AM, 2015-08-05
    Tags: , , , writers   

    Kurt Vonnegut: so it goes 

    “I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, ‘The Beatles did’.” —Kurt Vonnegut

  • Spread @11:32PM, 2015-08-04
    Tags: , Gabriel García Márquez, writers   

    The unlikely beginnings of Gabriel García Márquez 

    “I refuse to let you force me into being what I don’t want to be or what you would like me to be, much less what the government wants me to be.” –Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    Source: Brain Pickings

  • Titus Toledo @2:38AM, 2015-08-02
    Tags: philip k. dick, , , the electric dreamer, writers   

    Philip K. Dick: The Electric Dreamer 

    “Science fiction is considered to be something for adolescents, for just high school kids and for disturbed people in general to read in America.” —Philip K. Dick

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