George Saunders in the New Yorker on learning to write, and the writing instructors he learned from.
Doug gets an unkind review. We are worried. Will one of us dopily bring it up in workshop? We don’t. Doug does. Right off the bat. He wants to talk about it, because he feels there might be something in it for us. The talk he gives us is beautiful, honest, courageous, totally generous. He shows us where the reviewer was wrong—but also where the reviewer might have gotten it right. Doug talks about the importance of being able to extract the useful bits from even a hurtful review: this is important, because it will make the next book better. He talks about the fact that it was hard for him to get up this morning after that review and write, but that he did it anyway. He’s in it for the long haul, we can see. He’s a fighter, and that’s what we must become too: we have to learn to honor our craft by refusing to be beaten, by remaining open, by treating every single thing that happens to us, good or bad, as one more lesson on the longer path.
We liked Doug before this. Now we love him.
Great interview with Terry Gross in the New York Times:
The interview wish is as old as the form itself. Journalistic interviews in the United States increasingly began to appear in the 1860s. Before that, when reporters talked to people, they typically didn’t quote them. Once interviewing started, it became a craze. It had its own practitioners, often women, who were thought to be better at drawing people out. Henry James’s journalists were almost all "interviewers," and his characters, like Selah Tarrant in "The Bostonians," crave their scrutiny: "The wish of his soul was that he might be interviewed," James wrote.
The Kingston University Archives and Special Collections is revealing some of its gems in advance of its 25th anniversary. Like, Iris Murdoch's notes from a lecture by Jean Paul Satre:
The notebook contains Murdoch’s extensive notes made at the lecture, which are a fascinating insight into Sartre’s philosophy and Murdoch’s views on it at the time. The notebook is also unique as while we know Murdoch made notes on the writings of other philosophers, we are not aware of any others surviving taken from a lecture given by the philosopher themselves. The rear of the notebook is filled with notes that Murdoch made after reading many of Jean Paul Sartre’s books- Murdoch’s copies of which are also held in the Iris Murdoch Oxford Library, one bearing a personal message to Murdoch from Sartre himself.
It must be artifact day today for the Sunday Post. Here's Tolkien's annotated map, found inside a book that belonged to illustrator Pauline Baynes, who drew the maps for Tolkien.
The map was found loose in a copy of the acclaimed illustrator Pauline Baynes’ copy of The Lord of the Rings. Baynes had removed the map from another edition of the novel as she began work on her own colour Map of Middle-earth for Tolkien, which would go on to be published by Allen & Unwin in 1970. Tolkien himself had then copiously annotated it in green ink and pencil, with Baynes adding her own notes to the document while she worked.
As a rule, the Sunday Post does not self-link to the Seattle Review of Books, but this piece about the public response to the City Librarian Marcellus Turner's plan for rebranding is too important to ignore. The board votes on Wednesday about this plan — if you want to have a say in the future of your library, now is the time to take action and write the board. Get more context in this article we published last Wednesday, by Laurel Holliday.