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Tag Archives: Margaret Atwood

 

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  • On the Shelf

    Anne Brontë Gets a Headstone, and Other News

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  • Anne Brontë finally gets an accurate headstone. (The original misstated her age.)
  • “For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that?” Claire Messud bristles at the notion that characters should be likable. 
  • The Atlantic is launching a line of e-books.
  • HBO gives Olive Kitteridge the miniseries treatment.
  • In other film news, can you distinguish an Atwood novel from a Hollywood thriller?
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  • This Week’s Reading

    What We’re Loving: Aliens and Birds

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    The-Neighbors

    “Repressed Soviet writers had the chance to become political heroes, even when (as in the case of Joseph Brodsky, for instance) their writing was not explicitly political. Every ‘unofficial’ story or poem became an act of bravery, of protest. Illicit literature was circulated among friends and smuggled abroad; the sheer effort devoted to reading and sharing samizdat texts was a testament to their significance. America has its share of homegrown graphomaniacs, hellbent on becoming the next John Grisham or Jonathan Franzen, but it’s just not the same.” In The Nation, our frequent contributor Sophie Pinkham asks what happened to Russian writing. —Lorin Stein

    Lately I have been returning to the work of John Thorne. Thorne, who has published an idiosyncratic and resolutely un-foodie newsletter for thirty years, is acknowledged in the trade to be one of our finest food writers. I think he’s one of the best essayists working, full stop: humane, eccentric, incisive. Start with his book Simple Cooking, although you can’t really go wrong. As Thorne writes in his essay “Perfect Food,” “Our appetite should always be larger and more curious than our hunger, turned loose to wander the world’s flesh at will. Perfection is as false an economy in cooking as it is in love, since, with carrots and potatoes as with lovers, the perfectly beautiful are all the same; the imperfect, different in their beauty, every one.” —Sadie Stein Read More

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  • On the Shelf

    The Bookstore of the Year, and Other News

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  • On Language

    Vispo

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    The Paris Review’s interviews have long featured single manuscript pages from among the subjects’ writings. They are meant to show the author at work, his or her method of self-editing, of revision—an illustrative supplement to the process described at length in the conversations. To me, though, they always exist first as instances of visual artistry. The particularities of each writer’s markings are immediately perceptible: the way Margaret Atwood’s handwritten lines appear impatient and vital in contrast with the prim logos of the SAS Hotel stationery on which she penned a poem; the way Yves Bonnefoy’s long, spidery insertion lines give physicality to the pallid rows of words; the way David McCullough’s xed-out typewritten phrases become so many tiny, busy intersections. In the same way, I’ve always found the looping inscriptions of Cy Twombly’s “blackboard” paintings, in particular Cold Stream, to be a kind of magic—the secret scribblings, writ large, of a mind at work. (It’s no coincidence that Twombly worked as a cryptographer in the army.)

    I’m struck by the frequency, in Paris Review interviews, with which authors describe writing as being a visual activity. John Edgar Wideman imagines his drafts as “palimpsests.” Don DeLillo finds that “the words typed on the white page have a sculptural quality … They match up not just through meaning but through sound and look.” Read More

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  • On the Shelf

    Writing: The Great Invention of the World

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  • “Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.” Margaret Atwood’s rules for writing fiction.
  • “I would like to write another book for children but I spend all my spare time just answering the letters I get from children about the books I have already written.” —E.B. White, 1961.
  • “Writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind, through the eye—is the great invention of the world.” Abraham Lincoln’s favorite poetry.
  • Perhaps inevitable but ill-advised: a 50 Shades of Grey book burning. Explains Clare Phillipson, head of the anti-domestic-violence organization Wearside Women in Need, “I do not think I can put into words how vile I think this book is and how dangerous I think the idea is that you get a sophisticated but naive young woman and a much richer, abusive older man who beats her up and does some dreadful things to her sexually.”
  • Just in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Herman Hesse, a film of his time in Ticino.
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