"Look, before we go on, I want to say a little more about craft. It is a grab bag of procedures, tricks, lore, formal gymnastics, symbolic superstructures—methodology, in short. It’s the compendium of what you’ve acquired from others. And since great writers communicate a vision of existence, one can’t usually borrow their methods. The method is married to the vision. No, one acquires craft more from good writers and mediocre writers with a flair. Craft, after all, is what you can take out whole from their work. But keeping in shape is something else."

Norman Mailer (via theparisreview)

Thought about James Wood’s words on Zadie Smith’s NW when I read this.

Here are the books, stories, and plays presidential actors read at Michelle Obama event’s last night:

James Earl Jones: “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman.
Chris Rock: Take Me Out, a 2002 play by Richard Greenberg.
Blair Underwood: “In the Wine Time” by Ed Bullins.
Sigourney Weaver: “Stove Top Stuffing” by Margalit Fox.
Cynthia Nixon: “The Matchmaker” by Thorton Wilder.
Geena Davis: “69 Cents,” a Gary Shteyngart remembrance published in the New Yorker in 2007
Sam Waterston: “Life on the Mississippi” by Eugene O’Neil.
Jeffrey Wright: “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” by by Eugene O’Neil.
Cherry Jones: Beloved by Toni Morrison.

After the performance, all the actors watched the first lady from an upstairs balcony.
"I miss all the fun stuff," Michelle Obama lamented to a couple hundred people who had packed into the low-lit sanctuary of 538 Park last night. "They just pull me in."

Here are the books, stories, and plays presidential actors read at Michelle Obama event’s last night:

James Earl Jones: “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman.

Chris Rock: Take Me Out, a 2002 play by Richard Greenberg.

Blair Underwood: “In the Wine Time” by Ed Bullins.

Sigourney Weaver: “Stove Top Stuffing” by Margalit Fox.

Cynthia Nixon: “The Matchmaker” by Thorton Wilder.

Geena Davis: “69 Cents,” a Gary Shteyngart remembrance published in the New Yorker in 2007

Sam Waterston: “Life on the Mississippi” by Eugene O’Neil.

Jeffrey Wright: “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” by by Eugene O’Neil.

Cherry Jones: Beloved by Toni Morrison.

After the performance, all the actors watched the first lady from an upstairs balcony.

"I miss all the fun stuff," Michelle Obama lamented to a couple hundred people who had packed into the low-lit sanctuary of 538 Park last night. "They just pull me in."

Chris Kraus, Lynne Tillman, Sheila Heti, Wendy Delorme, Emily Gould and others discuss how women depict sex and if there can be “healthy narcissism”

Tillman was more practical, wondering whether a little “healthy narcissism” might help women write.
“There’s so many women in the audience,” she said, “and what I feel is the frustration of this situation for women. It’s really difficult, but it shouldn’t stop you from writing. If anything, it should kick you in the ass.”
“I was thinking about narcissism, and [Narcissus]—it’s the story of this person who is looking at himself in the water and fell in the water,” said Delorme. “But the desire is to see oneself, to see my face in the mirror. And I feel like a lot of female writing, feminist writing, queer writing, is about seeing yourself represented.” In this sense, she said, narcissism can be empowering—can be good. “But then comes the bad narcissism,” she added. “Which is, we’re really busy looking at ourselves and criticizing other people who don’t represent us. And how to make this constructive and powerful is now the issue.”

Chris Kraus, Lynne Tillman, Sheila Heti, Wendy Delorme, Emily Gould and others discuss how women depict sex and if there can be “healthy narcissism”

Tillman was more practical, wondering whether a little “healthy narcissism” might help women write.

“There’s so many women in the audience,” she said, “and what I feel is the frustration of this situation for women. It’s really difficult, but it shouldn’t stop you from writing. If anything, it should kick you in the ass.”

“I was thinking about narcissism, and [Narcissus]—it’s the story of this person who is looking at himself in the water and fell in the water,” said Delorme. “But the desire is to see oneself, to see my face in the mirror. And I feel like a lot of female writing, feminist writing, queer writing, is about seeing yourself represented.” In this sense, she said, narcissism can be empowering—can be good. “But then comes the bad narcissism,” she added. “Which is, we’re really busy looking at ourselves and criticizing other people who don’t represent us. And how to make this constructive and powerful is now the issue.”

Tags: books writing


“Authors are like rock stars for old people,” a younger patron said. He was talking to a young woman wearing a nearly identical pair of Warby Parkers. “I don’t get it.”

Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon cause a few scenes at the 92Y, by Jason Diamond for Capital New York

“Authors are like rock stars for old people,” a younger patron said. He was talking to a young woman wearing a nearly identical pair of Warby Parkers. “I don’t get it.”

Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon cause a few scenes at the 92Y, by Jason Diamond for Capital New York


As Stein explained it to me, the process of assembling the book involved reaching out to a group of writers, who would in turn select stories from the magazine’s archive for the anthology.
“We were very interested to see who the writers’ writers were, and what they looked for and remembered,” Stein said. And the authors selecting stories represent a sort of literary fiction dream team—a group that includes Lorrie Moore, Sam Lipsyte, Ali Smith, Ann Beattie, Dave Eggers, Mary Gaitskill, Jeffrey Eugenidies, and Jonathan Lethem. Some of their introductions focus on the lives of the writers they selected. Others, such as Eggers’s discussion of James Salter’s “Bangkok,” approach it from the level of craft: Eggers calls it a “nine-page master class in dialogue” in his introduction.
“Our initial concern was maybe that the stories selected would be too well-known, and that it would be a sort of greatest-hits collection,” Stein explained. “Those fears were pretty quickly laid to rest.

Beattie, Moore, Eggers, Gaitskill, Eugenides, Lethem and others publish a master class in the short story for ‘Paris Review’

As Stein explained it to me, the process of assembling the book involved reaching out to a group of writers, who would in turn select stories from the magazine’s archive for the anthology.

“We were very interested to see who the writers’ writers were, and what they looked for and remembered,” Stein said. And the authors selecting stories represent a sort of literary fiction dream team—a group that includes Lorrie Moore, Sam Lipsyte, Ali Smith, Ann Beattie, Dave Eggers, Mary Gaitskill, Jeffrey Eugenidies, and Jonathan Lethem. Some of their introductions focus on the lives of the writers they selected. Others, such as Eggers’s discussion of James Salter’s “Bangkok,” approach it from the level of craft: Eggers calls it a “nine-page master class in dialogue” in his introduction.

“Our initial concern was maybe that the stories selected would be too well-known, and that it would be a sort of greatest-hits collection,” Stein explained. “Those fears were pretty quickly laid to rest.

Beattie, Moore, Eggers, Gaitskill, Eugenides, Lethem and others publish a master class in the short story for ‘Paris Review’


“I write very slowly, and I rewrite continually, every day, over and over and over…. It’s a continual process. Every day, I read from the beginning up to where I’d got to and just edit it all, and then I move on. It’s incredibly laborious, and toward the end of a long novel it’s intolerable actually.”
What then ultimately brought her back to fiction, she was asked.
“There are little sparks of something like actual life,” she said after a deliberative pause, “and I don’t think an essay could ever create that friction, that feeling of being alive. And when you’re a kid, that’s why you read, and some people forget that, but for me that feeling of the fake-real, the almost-real, I get pleasure from thinking I could do that.”

Zadie Smith on ‘little sparks of something like actual life’ and her latest, ‘NW’

“I write very slowly, and I rewrite continually, every day, over and over and over…. It’s a continual process. Every day, I read from the beginning up to where I’d got to and just edit it all, and then I move on. It’s incredibly laborious, and toward the end of a long novel it’s intolerable actually.”

What then ultimately brought her back to fiction, she was asked.

“There are little sparks of something like actual life,” she said after a deliberative pause, “and I don’t think an essay could ever create that friction, that feeling of being alive. And when you’re a kid, that’s why you read, and some people forget that, but for me that feeling of the fake-real, the almost-real, I get pleasure from thinking I could do that.”

Zadie Smith on ‘little sparks of something like actual life’ and her latest, ‘NW’

Fall Preview 2012: New York’s indie booksellers from McNally Jackson, Word, BookCourt and recommend the best new reads at Capital New York.

Fall Preview 2012: New York’s indie booksellers from McNally Jackson, Word, BookCourt and recommend the best new reads at Capital New York.

Tags: books

“All of life is a struggle against people who want to destroy you, right?”
- Joshua Cohen at his book party last night. You can spy Alex Karpofsky, a filmmaker and actor best known for his role as Ray on Girls, looking on in this photo.

“All of life is a struggle against people who want to destroy you, right?”

- Joshua Cohen at his book party last night. You can spy Alex Karpofsky, a filmmaker and actor best known for his role as Ray on Girls, looking on in this photo.


One of the bingo players, Mary, is fixated on her deceased husband. At one point, Anya realizes that she would trade her own loneliness for Mary’s.
“I felt her loneliness,” Anya narrates, “and wanted it. I wanted hers. I didn’t want mine anymore.” It’s a familiar feeling, wanting to trade out of one’s problems, even for someone else’s. Yet in observing these old women, their sadness, regret, desire, Anya realizes that these problems never dissipate.

Brooklyn author Karolina Waclawiak’s discusses her debut novel, the immigrant experience, and Russian gangsters

One of the bingo players, Mary, is fixated on her deceased husband. At one point, Anya realizes that she would trade her own loneliness for Mary’s.

“I felt her loneliness,” Anya narrates, “and wanted it. I wanted hers. I didn’t want mine anymore.” It’s a familiar feeling, wanting to trade out of one’s problems, even for someone else’s. Yet in observing these old women, their sadness, regret, desire, Anya realizes that these problems never dissipate.

Brooklyn author Karolina Waclawiak’s discusses her debut novel, the immigrant experience, and Russian gangsters

Tags: books lit


“For me, the most poignant issue is the fact that the United States gave away its entire garment industry,” she says—an industry that this country previously dominated. Where the United States once made 90 percent of Americans’ clothes, it not makes as little as 3 percent, she said.
“And you know, if I had written this book before the recession, that point probably wouldn’t have hit quite so close to home…. One of the main industries that allowed people to move up in the middle class, especially in a place like New York, was the garment industry. It’s largely gone now.”

Elizabeth Cline making the case for a “slow clothes movement” and for reading her new book, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, which she’ll be presenting tonight at Powerhouse Arena.

“For me, the most poignant issue is the fact that the United States gave away its entire garment industry,” she says—an industry that this country previously dominated. Where the United States once made 90 percent of Americans’ clothes, it not makes as little as 3 percent, she said.

“And you know, if I had written this book before the recession, that point probably wouldn’t have hit quite so close to home…. One of the main industries that allowed people to move up in the middle class, especially in a place like New York, was the garment industry. It’s largely gone now.”

Elizabeth Cline making the case for a “slow clothes movement” and for reading her new book, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, which she’ll be presenting tonight at Powerhouse Arena.


Yikes.
We looked at 742 books reviewed, across all genres. Of those 742, 655 were written by Caucasian authors (1 transgender writer, 437 men, and 217 women). Thirty-one were written by Africans or African Americans (21 men, 10 women), 9 were written by Hispanic authors (8 men, 1 woman), 33 by Asian, Asian-American or South Asian writers (19 men, 14 women), 8 by Middle Eastern writers (5 men, 3 women) and 6 were books written by writers whose racial background we were simply unable to identify.

Yikes.

We looked at 742 books reviewed, across all genres. Of those 742, 655 were written by Caucasian authors (1 transgender writer, 437 men, and 217 women). Thirty-one were written by Africans or African Americans (21 men, 10 women), 9 were written by Hispanic authors (8 men, 1 woman), 33 by Asian, Asian-American or South Asian writers (19 men, 14 women), 8 by Middle Eastern writers (5 men, 3 women) and 6 were books written by writers whose racial background we were simply unable to identify.

“Being in a bookstore is like the best thing in the world … fuck all these iPads!” said Joan Rivers at Barnes and Noble last night, promoting her new book. “I don’t say mean things, I say true things,” she said. “There’s a big difference.” When one particularly shocking line about Princess Diana caused a loud, collective gasp, Rivers grinned: “and that’s why a lot of  you will return the book tomorrow!”

“Being in a bookstore is like the best thing in the world … fuck all these iPads!” said Joan Rivers at Barnes and Noble last night, promoting her new book. “I don’t say mean things, I say true things,” she said. “There’s a big difference.” When one particularly shocking line about Princess Diana caused a loud, collective gasp, Rivers grinned: “and that’s why a lot of you will return the book tomorrow!”

What would the internet look like if you tried to draw it?
At a discussion of Andrew Blum’s new book, Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet at the Greenlight Bookstore last night, the audience was asked to “try to draw the Internet.”

Most drawings looked like spiderwebs, tangled coils, or pinwheels made up of screens and keys.
Blum said that a Google image search for “The Internet” will tend to call up blobby illustrations that resemble the Milky Way or the blue-marble image of the Earth from space.
“It’s meant to mean that it’s something that we can’t fully understand, and we’re meant to be in awe of the totality of it,” said Blum of such renderings.

What would you draw?

What would the internet look like if you tried to draw it?

At a discussion of Andrew Blum’s new book, Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet at the Greenlight Bookstore last night, the audience was asked to “try to draw the Internet.”

Most drawings looked like spiderwebs, tangled coils, or pinwheels made up of screens and keys.

Blum said that a Google image search for “The Internet” will tend to call up blobby illustrations that resemble the Milky Way or the blue-marble image of the Earth from space.

“It’s meant to mean that it’s something that we can’t fully understand, and we’re meant to be in awe of the totality of it,” said Blum of such renderings.

What would you draw?

"I am sure I’ll be joining you here in a couple of years for your next book, which may be called What Bloomberg Wants."

— Mike Bloomberg at a book party for Tom Doctoroff’s book, What Chinese Want. The mayor also had some thoughts about China and New York.

Odessa let go of Boobie Miles, but Buzz Bissinger held on

After the back-to-back premature deaths of Miles’ father and uncle from heart attacks, Bissinger took Miles on as “a fourth son.” (Miles, now 42, weighs more than 300 pounds, more than 100 above his old playing weight.)
Some of this was journalistic follow-up. Some was motivated by his desire to develop a relationship “outside the narrow sphere of family and work.” And some of it, Bissinger freely admits, is motivated by the guilt he feels from having achieved literary immortality partly because of Miles’ sad saga.
“I’ve been a journalist for over thirty years, and never have I seen someone treated as horribly as Boobie was. Once he got hurt, it was as if he had been kindling tossed on a bonfire, a sacrifice to the god of football,” he writes.
Bissinger feels bad about this, and he puts his money where his mouth is, literally. Over the years, he’s given Miles tens of thousands of dollars for things like rent and vocational courses. Like many parent-child relationships, this one is fraught with the question of whether Bissinger is doing good by his son or enabling his dysfunctional habits.

Odessa let go of Boobie Miles, but Buzz Bissinger held on

After the back-to-back premature deaths of Miles’ father and uncle from heart attacks, Bissinger took Miles on as “a fourth son.” (Miles, now 42, weighs more than 300 pounds, more than 100 above his old playing weight.)

Some of this was journalistic follow-up. Some was motivated by his desire to develop a relationship “outside the narrow sphere of family and work.” And some of it, Bissinger freely admits, is motivated by the guilt he feels from having achieved literary immortality partly because of Miles’ sad saga.

“I’ve been a journalist for over thirty years, and never have I seen someone treated as horribly as Boobie was. Once he got hurt, it was as if he had been kindling tossed on a bonfire, a sacrifice to the god of football,” he writes.

Bissinger feels bad about this, and he puts his money where his mouth is, literally. Over the years, he’s given Miles tens of thousands of dollars for things like rent and vocational courses. Like many parent-child relationships, this one is fraught with the question of whether Bissinger is doing good by his son or enabling his dysfunctional habits.