To Pack and Wear:
2 jerseys or leotards
1 pullover sweater
2 pair shoes
nightgown, robe slippers
bag with: shampoo, toothbrush and paste, Basis soap, razor, deodorant, aspirin, prescriptions, Tampax, face cream, powder, baby oil
I think it’s curiosity that drives me to read. I don’t think “entertainment” quite covers it. It’s not that I’m indiscriminate in my appreciation—I like to feel that I can tell an apple from a pear, and I don’t expect from the pear what I might expect from the apple. In other words, if I’m reading Conan the Conqueror I’m not demanding that it be Middlemarch. They have different things to offer. But in some cases you get led to fine experiences through very devious pathways. Do you remember that spate of people parodying a movie called Downfall on YouTube? That led me to watch the original movie—actually quite an astounding movie.
Audience member: Who are your biggest influences?
Michael Chabon: I’d have to say my good friend Jonathan Franzen. I thought his novel The Corrections needed none.
Jonathan Franzen: Well in turn, I’d have to say my biggest influence is…Albert Camus.
Chabon: You were supposed to say me! I blurbed you!
Franzen: Yeah, and it looks real sweet on my dust jacket. How do you like me now?
There are those who moan, oh, Shakespeare wouldn’t have written all those wonderful plays for us to “modern update” if he’d had Angry Birds and Darklady.com. Is it so terrible, here in the 21st century? A sonnet is perfect Tumblr-length, and given the persistent debates over the authorship of his work, the bard would have benefited from modern, cutting-edge identity theft protection. The old masters didn’t even have freaking penicillin. I think Nietzsche would have endured non-BCC’d e-mail dispatches in exchange for pills to de-spongify his syphilitic brain, and we can all agree Virginia Woolf could’ve used a scrip for serotonin reuptake inhibitors. I digress. The Internet is not to blame for your unfinished novel: you are. People write novels in prison, for chrissakes.
Colson Whitehead, Better Than Renting Out a Windowless Room: The Blessed Distraction of Technology, Publishers Weekly
PS: Whitehead, by the way, is possibly that best Twitterer in the WWW (Whole Wide World, not World Wide Web.).
… I hate Hemingway. His gratingly self-conscious style – all brutalised declarative sentences – has, to my ears, the rhythm of a pub bore sounding off. More repugnant than his style is his mentality. He is the literary version of the worst of Bob Dylan, purveying that tired cliche of a man as solitary figure, necessarily selfish and the sole protagonist of his story, for whom women are either spoilt sluts or sweet saints, there to look pretty, subjugate themselves and then, eventually, be left behind so he can find another girl in another town wearing a lace dress. It’s such a boring, sophomoric view, one almost excusable in a twentysomething man, less so in a fiftysomething, and it explains why, in my experience, so many men love Hemingway (and Dylan, come to that). And why I don’t.
Hadley Freeman in Guardian UK, on being named after Hemingway’s first wife.