• strict warning: Declaration of FeedsImporter::copy() should be compatible with FeedsConfigurable::copy(FeedsConfigurable $configurable) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/includes/FeedsImporter.inc on line 94.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsUserProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsUserProcessor.inc on line 195.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display.inc on line 1877.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 193.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 641.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 82.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 609.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 128.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 208.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 770.

Notes on eight years of book blogging

Obviously I’m thrilled to be included in the Times’ (UK) list of “Forty bloggers who really count.” As is my nature, I also feel anxious and unworthy, but at a certain point (which came for me a long time ago) it is tacky and seems disingenuous to say so. Feel free to call me on that.
This month marks eight years since I started blogging. When I began, not long before this photo was taken, I figured the whole endeavor would quickly and unceremoniously go the way of my first website, which I set up in 1995, decorated with little New Yorker drawings, and abandoned to disappear along with everything else on the Alachua Freenet.
If you’d told me in 2002 that I would keep at it for so long or that so many people would know about this site or care what I had to say, I probably would’ve reacted the way I did to two boys in elementary school who said I was pretty: decided you were mocking me and head-butted you to the ground, shouting, “Why do you have to be such a jerk?”
 
I’m grateful to all of you who’ve visited this site through its many permutations. Even now, every six months or so, I find myself re-evaluating and changing what I do here.
This year I’ve posted more sporadically, read fewer new books, and written far less book criticism, so as to finish the novel that, as the Times notes, has yet to materialize. (The list compilers were very kind about the delay, actually. I wonder sometimes: John Steinbeck aside, has anyone in the history of letters ever whinged so publicly and at such length about writing a book that does not even exist?)
 
I find myself focusing — here, at Twitter, and elsewhere — ever more unapologetically on the strange assortment of writers and cultural phenomena that interest me. In the last six months, I’ve obsessed over Muriel Spark and day jobs, started an intermittent column on Christian fundamentalism, tried to explain my reasons for writing a novel rather than a memoir, outed myself — at NPR, no less — as a hypochondriac with a disorder of the humors, and discovered that the archives of my great-great aunt (and self-given namesake) are held by the State of Mississippi.
Which is to say: If my perspective and voice are the strengths of this site, they are also its limitations.
 
The truth is that, nowadays, there are so many excellent sites keeping up with book news, interviewing authors, reviewing novels, and commenting on publishing, my own appetite for participating in generalized literary talk has dwindled. I read other sites as widely as ever, though, and I’ve been interested to observe the evolution of book blogs.
Whether you’re just stopping by or are a regular reader, I’d like to direct you to some other bookish venues that you might enjoy (and want to send copies of your books to, since I, as only one person, can really only get to so much).
 
Surely by now anyone who’s even occasionally dipped into book and culture sites over the past decade knows about Bookslut, The Elegant Variation, The Literary Saloon, About Last Night, and the other early blogs that tend to be driven by one (or two, or three) perspectives. I know all of the people behind these sites — some are good friends — but I followed them daily long before I met them in person, and I still do.
Among the many smart, independent group sites that have sprung up more recently, I suggest updating your RSS feeds to include one or more of: The Second Pass (run by John Williams; I’m a contributor alongside Emma Garman, Alexander Nazaryan, Daniel Menaker, Carlene Bauer, Jessica Ferri, and others), The Millions (run by C. Max Magee, and featuring Emily St. John Mandel and Sonya Chung, and most recently Lizzie Skurnick), The Rumpus (run by Stephen Elliott, and featuring Seth Fischer, Rozalia Jovanovic, and Elissa Bassist), HTML Giant (run by Justin Taylor and featuring Nick Antosca, Jimmy Chen, and Blake Butler), Words Without Borders (whose blog is edited by the inimitable Bud Parr), and Open Letters Monthly.
The LA Times’ talented and tireless Carolyn Kellogg sets the tone for the newspaper’s Jacket Copy blog with a nice mix of industry and literary reporting. I miss (my friend and former editor) Dwight Garner at The New York Times’ Paper Cuts, but Gregory Cowles and some of the other contributors do a great job there.
The LRB, Bookforum, and The New York Review of Books all have blogs now. Laura Miller, Salon’s first-rate book critic, has rearranged the books section to allow for bloggy entries. Thessaly LaForce, mastermind, with Macy Halford, of The New Yorker’s Book Bench has moved to The Paris Review, which suggests that the venerable literary magazine could join Granta, Tin House, A Public Space, and VQR in blogging or publishing online-only work.
As for writers (not already mentioned above), I recommend Alison Bechdel, James Hynes, Amitava Kumar, Alexander Chee, Stephany Aulenback, Laila Lalami, Marie Mockett, Marlon James, D.E. Rasso, Kevin Kinsella, Gabrielle Bell, Levi Stahl, and George Murray. Also, if you’ve lost track of Lizzie Skurnick, she writes regularly for The Daily Beast and Politics Daily. And Betsy Lerner is a writer and an agent whose blog is both hilarious and informative, so you can almost convince yourself you’re getting work done while hitting reload there.
Galleycat, Sarah Weinman, and of course Publishers Weekly do quick, smart industry reporting.
At The Awl, Alex Balk and Choire Sicha have published my thoughts on Sarah Palin and militia groups, and you can find the two of them writing there on a wide range of cultural topics, alongside Chris Lehmann, Ana Marie Cox, Lindsay Robertson, Maura Johnston, Maria Bustillos, and Tom Scocca, among others.
More blogs, some of which I’ll kick myself for forgetting to mention, are listed on my links page. I’m also following good people at Twitter.

"To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph."
Mark Twain

Random picks

  • Always had questions about the word "blog" that often crosses you in the online context? Read on to demystify the term and to know the many reasons why you must leverage the services of an experienced blog writer.
  • Katie Umans has won the 2010 St. Lawrence Book Award with her manuscript Flock Book. Katie will receive in $1,000 in prize money and a publication contract from Black Lawrence Press. The semi-finalists are listed here and the finalists are listed here.
  • A paradox, it is: For all that I feel quieted and calmed by time in the natural world -- observing baboons on the Kenyan savanna, gazing at buffalo in Yellowstone National Park, or just hanging outdoors with our rescued...
  • If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains. —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities   Can you describe the mood of Glasgow as you feel/see it? It’s hard for a city to have one mood, I think. Stand on one street and it’s all money and restaurants and shops full of Gucci and Prada. Stand on another and it’s like stepping back a century,...
  • Content is king with regard to sites, the gets an individual traffic, provides users reason to go to your web site. Content material means website visitors, and website visitors mean making money. Content material could be the best aspect of developing a prosperous internet site. You will discover no shortcuts to generating content, well not any that gain a worthwhile effect. There are actually programs available that edit documents, duplicate text and alter the order, adjust keywords and phrases, make text online . This can be generally certainly not the very best approach to develop great...

Recommended sites

Most recent titles

02
19 hours ago
03
19 hours ago
04
19 hours ago
05
19 hours ago

Fast fact about writing

Creative writing is considered to be any writing, fiction, poetry, or non-fiction, that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, and technical forms of literature.