(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.)
Have you all heard of the lit mag Five Dials? I don’t remember how I first ran across it, but it’s good stuff. Entirely free to read, it’s a PDF-based publication that the editors say, “is best downloaded, printed out and enjoyed (we hope) away from the computer.” Not that it should stop you from reading on an e-device, but it’s still nice to see a magazine giving a nod to the printed page while keeping their overhead low. Their 23rd issue just came out earlier this week.
Here’s a great interview with writer Roxane Gay over at Paper Darts. I love what she has to say about genre books and teaching, and then there’s this gem:
Hypothetical teaching scenario: You have a student in a workshop who wants to be a writer. It’s all they want to do in life. They dream of topping the bestseller list. And…their writing sucks. Completely. Now they’re in your office asking for advice. You say to them…?
50 Shades of Grey is a bestseller. So are Dan Brown’s books. Bad writing has never been a deterrent to commercial success. I’d offer the student an honest, constructive critique of their writing. I’d tell them about the realities of publishing and I would wish them luck. I never want to be the person who tells a student they can’t have their dreams. Pragmatism is important, but so is hope. Without hope, students cannot thrive. My job is to encourage ambition.
Speaking of what constitutes “bad writing,” Constance Hale defends the appropriate usage of the passive voice over at The New York Times with “The Pleasures and Perils of the Passive.” Knowing the rules well means you get to break them well, after all.
What about another Paris Review interview? Of course you want one. I love David Mitchell‘s work wholeheartedly, so that’s who you’re getting this week. “Arguably, the act of memory is an act of fiction—and much in the act of fiction draws on acts of memory,” he says. Read the rest here.
Allow me to be indulgent and promote something in my own neck of the woods: There’s a writing group in Great Falls, Montana, called Writing Our Way. In April, they decided to be punny and created a “Poet-Tree” to celebrate National Poetry Month. The tree has since traveled around the city, inviting people to add their own work, with the potential for the work to be compiled into a book.
Besides public art projects, I’m also fascinated with creative couples and their working dynamic. Neil Gaiman and musician Amanda Palmer were married a little over a year ago, and though they occasionally collaborate, they mostly do their own thing. Here’s Gaiman talking about his reading habits for the Times.
What book had the greatest impact on you? What book made you want to write?
I don’t know if any single book made me want to write. C. S. Lewis was the first writer to make me aware that somebody was writing the book I was reading — these wonderful parenthetical asides to the reader. I would think: “When I am a writer, I shall do parenthetical asides. And footnotes. There will be footnotes. I wonder how you do them? And italics. How do you make italics happen?”
Yes, how does one denote italics on a typewriter? I’ve never thought to ask.
Palmer, meanwhile, is busy wielding the magic of the internet and has raised (as of this minute) $491,168 on Kickstarter to fund her new album/art book/tour extravaganza with her new band The Grand Theft Orchestra. One other thing? The project has only been on Kickstarter for three days. Wow.
I’m behind in my online reading travels, so I’m afraid that’s all I have for you this week. Let’s end this by pouring one out for Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch: