Are you interested in the thoughts and lives of the bookish people of today? Don’t look any further and read the best interviews of the week.
Rae Earl explains why she’s ok with sharing her teenage secrets in her memoir My Mad Fat Diary.
I share (nearly) everything with you: my time in a psychiatric ward, my adolescent struggles with my weight, and the difficulties of living with my Mum’s third husband who just happened to be a North African bodybuilder.Why am I comfortable about sharing it? Because I’ve discovered the teenage girl experience is so universal and transcends any time period or country. We’ve all been through a lot, OR we are going through it. I don’t mind people knowing about teenage Rae. Not even the masturbation, or my attempt at a cardboard cock. That is a ME that I’m at peace with, because we’ve all had the sort of moments I’ve had.
George Saunders is working on a novel!
A really long time ago, in the Bill Clinton era, my wife and I and my wife’s cousin were driving by Oak Hill Cemetery in D.C., and she just said casually, “Did you know that when Lincoln was president, his son died and he was buried right out there?” And she pointed up to the exact crypt where Willie Lincoln was. Several of the newspaper accounts said that Lincoln had been back to visit the crypt. And wow, this image came to mind of the Lincoln Memorial plus the Pietà. It just stuck with me for many, many years. I knew I couldn’t possibly do it justice, but after a while I thought, if it’s this insistent, it would be kind of dishonorable to not try.
Molly Prentiss talks to Vol. 1 Brooklyn about her novel Tuesday Nights in 1980 and how she played with the form.
In terms of those portraits. They really were there because I wanted to do experimental sections that would really energize the text. I felt strongly that I wanted parts of the text to be experimental with the language and the form. It had been like that from the beginning even though the book had taken a lot of turns throughout the way that really gave it the feeling of a classic novel.
Viet Thanh Nguyen won the Pulitzer prize for his debut novel The Sympathizer this year.
Anybody who looks around the contemporary landscape and the activism of Black Lives Matter and is surprised by any connection between wars foreign and domestic is naive, or has no historical consciousness. And that’s probably a large part of America.
Emily St. John Mandell wrote about her very long book tour.
I was declining most event offers by that point, because it was clear by then that what had started as five cities in six or seven days was going to be something closer to 50 cities in 14 months. I am aware at all times of how lucky I was with Station Eleven, having published three previous novels that came and went without a trace, but it is possible to exist in a state of profound gratitude for extraordinary circumstances and simultaneously long to go home.
Victor LaValle wrote about the one thing he never learned in a fiction workshop.
We’d been taught so much in our graduate program—and became substantially better writers because of it—but there’s a kind of blind spot, an essential flaw, in the workshop method that contributed to our problem. In class we’d discussed each submission seriously, were schooled about our characterizations, our use of language, our voices, our ideas. But we rarely, if ever, discussed the structures of our stories. Never examined the reasons why we’d told this story in this order. And I think this is because the structure of the piece is one thing that’s often taken for granted in a workshop.
Nora Zelevansky on how to write teen girl characters.
I began by reaching out to my young cousins—who ranged at the time from ages 12 to 15—via email. That was my first mistake. I cced their mothers, who responded right away, and the chain turned into a long, fairly funny thread. But about 20 emails in, we realized that the girls hadn’t joined in. I asked what kind of social media and communication platforms the girls used, and one of the mothers quipped: “Apparently not email.” Their advice: I was better off texting to make phone dates.