(Notes From Elsewhere is a roundup of various literary things compiled by Sara Habein, along with news from past Word Riot authors. She make no claims at being terribly current or the first to know anything, but hopefully you will find something interesting here.)
Leesa Cross-Smith, whose “Russian Women Stuff” appeared here this past January, has two new pieces of flash fiction published: “Three Ways to Say No” over at DOGZPLOT and “A Modest Guide to Truculence/Survival: Girls” at Treehouse.
The Academy of American Poets is once again celebrating National Poetry Month with “30 Days, 30 Poets.”
In “You’ve Heard A Lot About This Already” News: Pulitzer Prize jurors Susan Larson and Maureen Corrigan react to the absence of a fiction award this year.
Still, voracious readers will always find ways to promote books to the general public. Say, how about giving away 500,000 books on April 23rd? World Book Night is this coming Monday, and “givers” all across the country will participate. Me, I’ll be armed with Patti Smith’s Just Kids, a book I recommend wholeheartedly to just about anyone.
And shouldn’t we be looking for reasons to celebrate books, rather than dismiss them? Apparently not, if you’re Jonathan Franzen. “There’s so much to read and so little time. I’m always looking for a reason to put a book down and not pick it up again, and one of the best reasons a writer can give me is to use the word then as a conjunction without a subject following it,” he says in a recent essay.
Call me overly optimistic, but I’d rather give a book a fair shake, rather than search for reasons to hate it. Does he now only make public comments when he wants to dismiss any literary practice that differs from his own?
In less publicly cranky news, Chloe Caldwell talks about the wonderful, somewhat serendipitous relationships writers can have with one another at Northwest Book Lovers: “On Mothers, Mentors and Housesitting for Cheryl Strayed.”
Writing isn’t all about comma-related stress, Franzen — Sometimes, it’s about relearning how to tell a story when our brains no longer work like they used to. Floyd Skloot, a former novelist and poet, now writes memoir. For the past 20 years, virus-related neurological difficulties have changed how he approaches writing. Read more about his latest, The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of a Writer’s Life, over at Psychology Today.
If you think art and design have nothing to do with literature, try telling that to the readers of McSweeney’s. Books can be their own works of art, of course, and Flavorpill has rounded up “10 Crazy and Unusual Book Designs” that might inspire you to create something unusual on your own.
In the same vein, author Menena Cottin and illustrator Rosana Faria bring us The Black Book of Colors. Brain Pickings reviews the book and offers several photos: “The book is designed as an empathy tool that allows a sighted person to step inside the world of the blind, who experience the world through their fingers rather than their eyes.” Interesting, lovely stuff.
I don’t know about you, but I love collecting notebooks. Anything with an interesting cover, decent paper, or the ability to withstand being tossed around inside my bag — I love them all. Naturally, I enjoyed this collection of vintage memo books given to farmers by seed, tractor, and other agricultural companies.
Finally, if you haven’t poked around the Google Art Project, get to it. Not only is there a ton to look at, but it could prove useful for all sorts of writing-related research. I’ve already used it to talk about one of the Vincent Van Gogh paintings featured in an episode of Doctor Who.
Until next week…