susan-sontag

Includes Susan Sontag, Hanya Yanagihara, Georges Perec, Samuel Pepys, Brian Evenson, Erica Jong, and more — Literary Hub

Originally published in French as Malone meurt in 1951 and later translated into English by the author himself, Malone Dies is the second novel of Samuel Beckett’s Trilogy. The Making of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Malone Dies’/’Malone meurt’ is a comprehensive reference guide to the history of the text. Read the Bloomsbury press release over at the Samuel Beckett Society website.

“[Norway] is one of the most enviable places in the world to be a writer or a publisher. Here’s why…” [Source: New Statesman]

Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy

“I always write in the morning. […] In the morning one’s head is particularly fresh. The best thoughts most often come in the morning after waking while still in bed or during the walk.”

— Leo Tolstoy, qtd. in The Guardian

In an engaging piece for The Guardian, writer Kristina Olsson discusses her decision to walk across England on foot. I enjoyed her observations about the connections between writing and walking, and was struck by the simplicity of her morning routine:

“Each morning on the walk I got up, pulled on boots, devoured porridge, consulted the map. Swung on my rucksack, not thinking of cold and stiffness, a sore toe, the long hours of hard work ahead. I didn’t question it. My job was to walk. I began. I kept going.”

— Kristina Olsson, ‘Radical freedom: writing, walking – and exploring the wilderness within’, The Guardian

sam-shephard
Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard‘s final work, Spy of the First Person, has been published this week by Knopf. In an early review for USA TodayJocelyn McClurg describes it as “an autobiographical work of fiction” with a “fragmentary, disjointed narrative”. McClurg goes on to offer a pithy summary suggesting a debt to the Irish writer, Samuel Beckett, calling Shepard’s novel “Waiting for Godot in the desert.” (more…)

After reading R.F. Christian‘s edition of Leo Tolstoy‘s letters, Alexandra of Russian Literature and Biography notes the writer’s advice to aspiring authors:

“His suggestions to authors were paradoxical: Tolstoy advised them not to write, unless they felt it was absolutely necessary, and never to write with an eye to publication. In 1887, replying to an obscure writer, Tolstoy suggested: ‘The main thing is not to be in a hurry to write, not to grudge correcting and revising the same thing 10 or 20 times, not to write a lot and not, for heaven’s sake, to make of writing a means of livelihood or of winning importance in people’s eyes.'”

— Russian Literature and Biography

Since interviewing Michelle Boulous Walker about “slow philosophy” earlier this month, I have been thinking about the way we approach writing within institutional or commercial settings. It seems I am not the only one. Lauren Elkin has posted a link to a piece by Andrew Gallix where he reflects on the benefits of writing at a slower pace:

“[B]ack in February, I expressed concern at the accelerating pace of publishing and called (half-jokingly) for the creation of a Slow Writing Movement (SWM), modelled on the Slow Food phenomenon. Word processing probably enables people to write faster than ever, and the internet provides the sometimes dubious means of instant publication.

As a result, what often passes for fiction today would have been considered no more than an early draft only a few years ago. In truth, however, the digital age has simply compounded a problem caused by the increasing hegemony of one school of writing (the Ionic) over another (the Platonic).”

Andrew Gallix, The Guardian
Sketching a brief history of Ionic vs. Platonic writing, Gallix identifies a social/economic bias that sets the quick work of the “hack” against the slow, patient verse that privilege can afford. But his central point remains crucially relevant in a digital age of around-the-clock productivity: perhaps a Slow Writing Movement can make us stop for a moment to catch our breath?