INTERVIEWER Do you keep to a schedule? ROBINSON I really am incapable of discipline. I write when something makes a strong claim on me. When I don’t feel like writing, I absolutely don’t feel like writing. I tried that work ethic thing a couple of times—I can’t say I exhausted its possibilities—but if there’s not […]
After I found out about the Blonde Fury, I thought I’d better colour my hair again. I bought the dye at the same drugstore where I’d bought the pregnancy test, only this time its shelves were half vacant. There was an inventory girl with dark blueberry hair who stood in front of the selection with […]
Huckleberry seized my hand, clasping it so tight he brought back in a quick flood of feelings those years with the Widow Watson, and whispered as if he wanted only me and not his friend to hear, “You take care of yourself, Jim, and keep out of all that trouble, please, cause this world is […]
In his debut, Saad Hossain brings a much-needed cynicism to our literature of the Iraq War. An absurdist protest novel in the vein of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 or Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Escape from Baghdad! relentlessly focuses the reader’s attention on the folly of war.
The summer after my freshman year I found myself working as a substitute mail carrier in one of the tony North Shore suburbs outside Chicago. The post office was an intriguing place (just see short stories by Eudora Welty and Herman Melville). I discovered, after a steep learning curve, that I could sort and deliver […]
The specialty of the novel is that the writer can talk about his characters as well as through them or can arrange for us to listen when they talk to themselves. He has access to self-communings, and from that level he can descend even deeper and peer into the subconscious.
There are a number of reasons a writer may waffle on the question of which events in the book match up with her life. Most writers receive the question of whether something in their fiction “really happened” as an accusation, without being exactly sure what they are being accused of. There can be the egotistical […]
A reading list could never do author Roxane Gay justice. For one thing, she’s incredibly prolific. She writes, edits, teaches and tweets. Within the past few months, she’s garnered acclaim for her intense novel, An Untamed State, and her collection of essays, Bad Feminist. These are just the facts. I don’t remember discovering Gay’s work. I remember requesting […]
Then he had things to tell her about himself. The fact that he had produced a condom did not mean that he was a regular seducer. In fact, she was only the second person he had gone to bed with, the first being his wife. He had been brought up in a fiercely religious household […]
This week, a lot happened. A misogynist went on a violent rampage. #YesAllWomen took off on Twitter. Dr. Maya Angelou, feminist author and all-around genius (and don’t get me started on her doctor honorary), died at 86 years old. This week, I present a long list of essays, articles and interviews written by women. Many […]
I read far and wide during my ten-year bit. I read all of the longest works of the world, the thousands of pages of Proust and Musil and Joyce and Tolstoy and David Foster Wallace. And I could follow whatever interested me at the time. I acquired a taste for Sir Richard Burton’s 19th century […]
Roxane Gay | An Untamed State | May 2014 | 11 minutes (2,742 words) * * * Roxane Gay’s new novel, An Untamed State, is out this week, and we’re excited to present the opening chapters with the Longreads community. Our thanks to Gay and Grove Atlantic for sharing it here. For more, read our Roxane […]
I’m reasonably certain that John Ashcroft didn’t recognize himself disguised as the evil high school guidance counselor in one of my novels. But like so much else, this thorny matter requires consideration on a case-by-case basis. In Mary McCarthy’s story “The Cicerone,” Peggy Guggenheim, the important collector of modern art, appears as Polly Grabbe, an […]
I think the look of the show is great. There was a bit of an adjustment for me. I had been living with these characters and this world since 1991, so I had close to twenty years of pictures in my head of what these characters looked like, and the banners and the castles, and […]
There are times you see the rot you’ve always been. My days were a trail of liquor-store bumblings and sunrise guilt, and every penny I’d earned these years had come to rest in a dirty glass. I’d ceased caring for others, and definitely for myself. The only things that mattered were booze and books. Scrubbing […]
These four fantastic fiction pieces will take you far away from this perpetual winter. 1. “Lost in Transit.” (Leon, The Swan Children Magazine, March 2014) This story is a beautiful, haunting example of the work produced by the Swan Children, a collective of artists expressing their experiences under “homeschooled, Quiverfull, and conservative Christian upbringing.” The […]