“I can’t separate my experience as a mother from my life as a writer. Writing has always been the way I order the universe and make sense of chaos. It’s how I figure out what I think and feel. It’s where I pour my anger and dread. It’s where I feel most free, and it’s where I fight. Becoming a parent has profoundly shaped my vision of the world, the same way that becoming a pirate or an arsonist or chronically ill changes your perspective and how you move in the world. You never look at the world the same way. The stakes are different. You are different. I know stuff about the world, about myself, I’d never know if I wasn’t someone’s mother. I’d like to think it’s made me a smarter, more compassionate human being. By the same token it also changes how people look at you. It’s funny we so often regards mothers as being one-dimensional, sexless, creatures—toothless, when in fact I know I’m a much more interesting and dangerous person now than I ever was before.” —Elissa Schappell, author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls, interviewed by Justin Taylor, author of The Gospel of Anarchy
“It was clear from the start that a cerulean warbler was in many ways the star of the book, and we had to include one.” —Talking Covers interviews Jonathan Franzen about the cover of Freedom, and designer Charlotte Strick, on what went into creating it.
“[NewBagel] was founded by a pair of ex-Googlers who wrote software to design and bake the platonic bagel: smooth crunchy skin, soft doughy interior, all in a perfect circle.” —Robin Sloan’s fictional bagel company in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore has become a reality (by coincidence!). He says he hopes to serve them at his book parties.
“I have always thought that the absence of god liberated us from an unbearable weight. But more than once, I have missed the idea of divine mercy when entering or leaving a hospital. Filled with seats, corridors, hierarchies and ceremonies of hope, silent on their upper floors, hospitals are the closest thing to a cathedral in which we unbelievers may tread.” —from Andrés Neuman’s haunting story, “Mother Backwards,” in Work in Progress. (Originally published in The Coffin Factory.)
“When the lights went out, the disruption was a testament to just how much was going on in New York City at night. At Ceasar’s Retreat in midtown, porn star Annie Sprinkle was in the middle of a blow-job-for-hire. At CBGBs, The Shirts were on a bill with the Romantics; Hilly cancelled the show, so guitarist Artie Lamonica and bassist Bob Rapiocco hung around and drank his beer by candlelight. The cast of Beatlemania led a singalong with acoustic guitars up at the Winter Garden in Times Square; a harpist for the Canadian Ballet plucked out the notes to “Dancing In The Dark” up at the Met. On the side blocks off Christopher Street, naked men in workboots fucked against parked cars.” —Will Hermes, author of Love Goes to Buildings on Fire, on the 1977 NYC blackout. This Friday is the blackout’s 35th anniversary, and Hermes is posting memories, radio broadcasts, and book excerpts on his blog all week.
Scenes from Ghost Milk (Quote & Image Generator)
“The rules Faulkner doesn’t ignore in this novel he tends to obliterate. The plot, for instance. There is none.” —John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead, writes a foreword to a new Modern Library edition of “Absalom, Absalom!” Read it in the New York Times.
“Learn to live on air… Avoid all messy and needy people including family; they threaten your work… Once you’ve truly begun, slow down. The difference between publishing two good books and forty mediocre books is terribly large.” — Sarah Manguso’s advice to young writers on how to have a career, in Work in Progress