The elegant lie

Sunday, I had the opportunity to sit in the WPVM studios during a broadcast of WordPlay. Katherine Min read from Secondhand World; a lyrical novel of sorts. Sebastian Matthews discussed the autobiographical elements of the novel. Katherine Min responded, “Fiction is the elegant lie that leads to the truth.” And I wrote it down in my notebook along with other jewels I gathered from observing the recording of WPVM’s WordPlay.

Letting go

Two things happen when you let go of something; you feel the pain of its absence more acutely or you feel the freedom from the weight it once possessed in your life.

What editors do

From The New Yorker:

Editing takes a variety of forms. It includes the discovery of talent…. It can be a matter of financial and emotional support in difficult times…. an editor ordinarily tries to facilitate a writer’s vision, to recommend changes… that best serve the work…. editorial work is relatively subtle, but there are famous instances of heroic assistance: Ezra Pound cutting T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” in half when the poem was still called “He Do the Police in Different Voices”; Maxwell Perkins finding a structure in Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Homeward, Angel” and cutting it by sixty-five thousand words.

Link.

The secret lives and desires of poets and writers

From The New Yorker:

Part of the reason there were no real biographies is that little was known about Gibran’s life, and the reason for that is that he didn’t want it known.

Link.

And from Slate:

…one of the most troubling dilemmas in contemporary literary culture…. the question of whether the last unpublished work of Vladimir Nabokov, which is now reposing unread in a Swiss bank vault, should be destroyed–as Nabokov explicitly requested before he died.

Link.

From 1000 Black Lines:

  1. Jessica Smith, Burn it. Poetry burns well. And it is a fitting end for poetry, esp. anything from that angsty juvenile period…
  2. 1000 Black Lines, Thanks for the advice. I’ll burn it along with all the friendship bracelets, florescent T-shirts…. Who needs to worry about the high cost of heating fuel when burning poetry is such an affordable alternative?

Link.

Books that… Take Your Breath Away

It is all about packaging, whether one likes it or not. The British design/publishing company knew that when they released their catalog of books produced in cigarette packaging.

When browsing bookstore shelves the standard trade paperback size becomes overwhelmingly boring. Packaging matters. Cover design matters. Page layout matters.

Anyone who has ever been in a bookstore knows that you’re not browsing books; you’re browsing covers. To have a chance in a sea of covers, you’ve got to have a compelling visual that grabs people.

(via Andre Brocatus) Link.

If a designer can make a book’s packaging and cover attract a reader, the page layout and text should create a literary (and art) experience with an archaic technological device–a book.

“Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work.”

From 43 Folders:

[Chuck] Close talks about evolving his method of working to overcome his own personality.

“I’m a nervous wreck. I’m a slob. I have no patience. And I’m rather lazy. All those things would seem to guarantee that I would not make work like I make. But I didn’t want to just go with my nature.”

So instead of painting overwrought, expressive things when the mood struck, he committed to making his epic, close-up portraits by breaking the work into tiny pieces and hewing to a grid. Not only did the grid make technical sense, it forced a lifehack on Close that would help him deal with his own tendencies. It helped get the work done…

Link.

When the coffee runs out (or, where did all the books go?)

There’s a difference between greatest or best and most beneficial books. But if no one is going to visit the library to discover them, will they truly be great, best or beneficial? Some people must be reading those odd artifacts called books. Otherwise a self-published novelist with a great book deal would have remained in the shadows of the literary landscape.

Oh, bother… maybe I need to switch from coffee to chai.