• Graham Greene on writing: “‘Perhaps it is only in childhood . . . that books have any deep influence on our lives. In later life we admire, we are entertained, we may modify some views . . . but we are more likely to find in books merely a confirmation of what is in our minds already.'” Incidentally, Mr. Evans, some of us do continue to think of Greene “as a pre-eminent literary model, interestingly evading both the high canon and the low,” but thanks for playing! (Via She Who Knows My Literary Loves.)
  • Frank Conroy, outgoing head of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, attributes his success to an interest “in writing itself, for itself, rather than how it fits into a theory of literature.” “I have no theoretical ax to grind,” he tells the New York Times.
  • Prior Booker winner James Kelman has denounced the “class prejudice” of the current Booker judges. In a Bookforum interview published earlier this year, Kelman made some fascinating observations about the failure of the British literary establishment to embrace English other than the Queen’s. (Via 3AM’s Booker Blog.)
  • Novelist Jonathan Coe (whose latest novel is not yet available Stateside, damnit) says writing his biography of B.S. Johnson was much harder than writing fiction. “‘The kind of objective reality which he drove himself mad aspiring to wasn’t available to me as a biographer,’ Coe said. ‘It was when I had the nerve to fly in the face of Johnson’s own theories that I started to get somewhere with it.'” (Via TEV.)
  • “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” — Mark Twain, as quoted in an article entitled “Clever two-liners make for memorable writing.” (Via Places for Writers.)
  • I defer to Cinetrix on many things, as everyone should, but in this case she’s just dead wrong. Sugar, baby doll, listen to me: barbecue is not merely a noun.
  • “The fashion of taking historical figures and making them into gumshoes must end,” says Booksquare, in response to a new Aristotle, P.I., tale.
  • A bartender at a Manhattan strip club is blogging at the Village Voice about the shift in clientele accompanying the Republican National Convention: “I hurried from one table to the next, explaining to half of them, it seemed, that no, we didn’t carry Miller Lite.” (Via Voltage.)


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.