Katie Roiphe seems very concerned that Joan Didion’s personal essays aren’t as revealing as they are reputed to be:
The personal information she imparts is so stylized, so mannered, so controlled that it is no longer personal information. The “I” in her essays is an elegant silhouette of a woman. There is something shadowy about her, something peculiarly obscure, like the famous photograph of her hiding behind huge sunglasses. She is, in the end, a writer of enormous reserve.
(Via Arts Journal.)
Steve Almond reveals that he has written and abandoned three novels:
The first one was semi-autobiographical dreck. A work of profound hope and narcissism. It is suitable for burning, perhaps. The second and third were aborted efforts at copying the writers I love (Bellow, Morrison, Updike). The most recent one actually stands a chance, but only if I completely rewrite it, this time actually finding a way to love the characters. But listen: these novels were a kind of apprenticeship. Itâ€™s incredibly hard to write anything authentic (a poem, a story, a novel) and writers need practice. So thatâ€™s what those novels were: practice.[*]
* Excuse me while I go and shoot myself in the head.