Archive for the ‘Clipping’ Category

Andrew Miller has a good article on how to create fictional characters in today’s Guardian. Click here. Very smart; well worth reading.


“No one writes for long without understanding that they are entering mystery and will never leave it.”

“At its simplest, its barest, characterisation is about a writer’s grasp of what a human being is. When we set out to write, we do not do so out of a sense of certainty but out of a kind of radical uncertainty. We do not set out saying: ‘The world is like this.’ But asking: ‘How is the world?'”


“And here’s the function that the book – the paper book that doesn’t beep or flash or link or let you watch a thousand videos all at once – does for you that nothing else will. It gives you the capacity for deep, linear concentration. As Ulin puts it: “Reading is an act of resistance in a landscape of distraction…. It requires us to pace ourselves. It returns us to a reckoning with time. ”

Johann Hari (read the rest of his timely essay here)

Bat Terrier applauds Open Culture‘s smart list of essential non-fiction. (Click here for the list.)

Have you ever seen Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, undoubtedly one of the best books ever written, on ANY sort of “best of” book list? Me neither.  And certainly not on a list that also contains Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The White Album, Marcus Aurelius‘ Meditations, Walden,  and Hannah Arendt‘s amazing Eichmann in Jerusalem. And that’s just for starters.

What did they miss? Montaigne, maybe Walter Benjamin, depending on your tastes. But all in all, a really smart take on the “best books” list. Kudos.

… If the novelist is not sustained by a hope of money, then he must be sustained by a hope of salvation, or he simply won’t survive the ordeal. People without hope not only do not write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them. They don’t take long looks at anything because they lack the courage. The way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience, and the novel, of course, is a way to have an experience.

Flannery O’Connor

Or, for a salvation plea you can dance to, there’s this…

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that will enter the book publishing business as early as this July. Looks like their original publishing focus will be on romance, science fiction, literary fiction, YA, business and general non-fiction. See the link here. Surprisingly, it looks like amazon will publish in both digital and print formats. Maybe the printed book has a future after all… 🙂

I felt that I had a gift, but I had got into the habit of thinking that it was insignificant. Purely external causes are sufficient to make one unjust to oneself, suspicious, and morbidly sensitive…  All my friends and relatives have always taken a condescending tone to my writing, and never ceased urging me in a friendly way not to give up real work for the sake of scribbling. I have hundreds of friends in Moscow, and among them a dozen or two writers, but I cannot recall a single one who reads me or considers me an artist…

— Chekhov, 1886

Excellent essay in the Poetry Foundation‘s Harriet blog about poetic fashions: why some are in, why some are out, and why some are permanently out in the great Fashion Show that is Po-Biz. Click here.


  • To be in fashion, a poet must not only write good poems, “but keep up appearances”
  • During a poet’s lifetime, fashion depends on his or her “relationship to literary power”


Jennifer Egan, who just won the National Book Critic Circle Award for Fiction and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for A Visit from the Goon Squad, gives advice on writing. Click here.

Most interesting takeaway–

She set three rules for writing this book:
1. Every chapter must have a different protagonist.
2. Every chapter must have a different theme and feel.
3. Each chapter must stand alone.

Fiction writers, what do you think of this advice? Bat Terrier would love to hear more in the comments.

“I want the new, or the old made new, and if I can’t have the new I want sense, and I am aware, as a reader and as a critic and as a writer, of my own limited time.”

The esteemed poetry critic Stephen Burt discusses the art of the review and the responsibilities of the reviewer.

If you haven’t read Burt’s fine book, Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry, you have missed watching a major literary intelligence in operation. Highly recommended.

Best advice yet on how to deal with writerly jealousy, envy and bitterness.

“There isn’t a thing to eat down there in the rabbit hole of your bitterness except your own desperate heart.”

Highly recommended, especially when someone you don’t like so much gets a big book deal.