Sure, your last book sold ten copies and you’re pretty sure your next one will sell about the same… but at least you’ll get to live much longer with all that failure thanks to having a sense of purpose in your life.
In fact, people with a sense of purpose had a 15 percent lower risk of death,compared with those who said they were more or less aimless. And it didn’t seem to matter when people found their direction. It could be in their 20s, 50s or 70s… “Often this is individuals who want to produce something that is appreciated by others in written or artistic form, whether it’s music, dance or visual arts,” Hill says.
So, yes, your smug self-regard actually has a pay-off, Writer Person! Congratulations!
More at NPR.
At the Millions, there is a terrific appreciation of the great Flannery O’Connor as a writer, southerner, Catholic…
In “The Teaching of Literature,” an address to English teachers later collected into an essay, O’Connor assails the “utilitarian” approach of doctoral studies in English, where it is assumed that novels “must do something, rather than be something.”
While you’re at it, you might as well read “Good Country People” and see what great writing looks like.
Over at Vice, there’s an interview with John Martin from Black Sparrow about his long relationship, both professional and personal, with Charles Bukowski.
I mean, his public persona is very unlike the man.
Apparently, Hank was courteous, among other things. More at Vice.
What if you’d written a novel and then, years later, Stephen King wrote a book with the same title, and you suddenly found yourself awash in King-like royalties? Emily Schultz, the author of Joyland, found herself in that situation when Stephen King released his own novel named Joyland as a print-only title.
King has now responded to the mix-up, telling Entertainment Weekly “I’m delighted for her, and I’m going to order her book”. King, writes Schultz on Twitter, is “wonderful”.
Stephen King isn’t just one of our best, most prolific, and most influential writers. He’s also a really cool dude. More at The Guardian.
Have you read Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch? Was it highfalutin enough for you? For some publications, like the august New York Times, it hit the mark. But there are more discerning people than that out in literary land defending us all from literature-as-entertainment. (Ew! Entertainment!) Vanity Fair‘s Evgenia Peretz airs out the laundry. Can’t we all get along?
Indeed, we might ask the snobs, What’s the big deal? Can’t we all just agree that it’s great she spent all this time writing a big enjoyable book and move on? No, we cannot, say the stalwarts.
More at Vanity Fair.
John Fante’s writing career spanned half of the twentieth century. His brilliance was that he wrote in a way that was unfussy and so bluntly honest that some sentences, as unfussy as they were, cut you right to the bone. Ask the Dust, Wait Until Spring Bandini, The Brotherhood of the Grape… all of these books were highly personal, spellbinding and unsparing. Bukowski relaunched Fante’s career late in life, after Fante went blind for fuck’s sake.
More about this over at our favorite website Dangerous Minds.
Our correspondent Joseph Hirsch has a guest post over at Hardboiled Wonderland, giving a little love to a Stephen King-penned novel called Rage.
My own personal favorite King book, and the subject of this post, is Rage. To use an analogy, if one reads Salem’s Lot or The Shining, they are reading the literary equivalent of latter-day Scorsese, say when he made Casino or Bringing out the Dead. These works are very good, to be sure, but they are missing that enfant terrible quality. Rage is the literary equivalent of Taxi Driver. It is the angry, violent work of a young man.
More over at Hardboiled Wonderland.
Over at the Guardian, Damien Walter makes the case for reading franchise novels in a specific sci fi canon…
What franchise novels can certainly do well is compelling storytelling. And at their best, they can do it much better than the franchises that spawned them. Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire introduces the malevolent Grand Admiral Thrawn to the extended Star Wars universe, where he remains hands-down its best antagonist.
while simultaneously making the case for writing them…
The big names of franchise writing such as Peter David and Alan Dean Foster may struggle to command much literary respect, but with more than 20 million books sold worldwide, Kevin J Anderson can respond to critics of his Dune prequels while sucking on a stogie rolled from thousand-dollar bills.
More at the Guardian.
Frequent contributor to Paragraph Line Joseph Hirsch wrote a great piece about Eddie Little for Up and Down These Mean Streets. Little was a career criminal who could write well “…unlike say, James Ellroy or Elmore Leonard, who had to rely more on imagination than experience when it came to telling their tales.”
Read more at http://www.donherron.com/?p=6435
Joey has written some terrific crime novels himself, including Ohio At Dusk, Rolling Country and the forthcoming Flash Blood. He has also written a book that should be a science fiction cult novel, The Last Slice of Pizza.
The Guardian on the lives of British mid-list authors, who used to be able to make a living writing, and since 2008… have struggled. “Welcome poverty! Welcome misery, welcome houselessness, welcome hunger, rags, tempest, and beggary! Mutual confidence will sustain us to the end!”