At The Millions, Ted Scheinman considers attention deficit in literature—that is, not the representation of ADD in books, but rather how short attention spans can be in the classics. The canonical example of a “jumpy, distracted” book is Tristam Shandy. In Shandy, Scheinman claims that not only is “attention deficit, for Sterne... not something to be feared in the reader—it is the basis for his process of composition.”
It’s the how-to issue of the New York Times Book Review. In this issue, Colson Whitehead explains how to write (among his tips: “Keep a dream diary”); Roger Rosenblatt lays out “how to write great” (great what, we’re not sure); Augusten Burroughs offers a primer on how to write how-tos; and in the grand tradition of M.F.K. Fisher, Kate Christensen explains how to cook a clam.
Erica Jong, Melissa Febos, and others sat down at McNally Jackson in New York last week to discuss Fifty Shades of Gray—the cult phenomenon, that is, “not its literary merit.” While panelist Ian Kerner noted that he thinks “it functions as an erotic stimulant,” Roxanne Gay had a different take. “It’s a travesty,” Gay told the audience. “But a fun travesty. I’ve never laughed harder. Every day I would just fall off the treadmill laughing.”
At the Morning News, kids around the world discuss their summer reading assignments.
Indian diplomats are turning to creative writing (and especially poetry) to relieve the stresses of their job.