Here are some things (a lot of things) I’ve been reading and thinking about.
Please read Lane Degregory’s stunning story about Miss Teen America’s escape to the woods — except that’s not what the story’s about at all.
David Mitchell on learning to accept his son’s autism. The second-person writing style is commonly abused but here it works well on an empathetic level. And I loved this: “Having a life-redefining diagnosis – like autism, Asperger’s, Down’s, whatever – is like getting off the plane and finding yourself not in balmy, romantic Rome but… Schipol Airport, in Holland. What the hell? My wife and I booked our holiday in Italy, like everyone else.”
“Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.” A poem on failing and flying.
I am loving Miranda July’s new project, We Think Alone. Over 20 weeks, you get 20 sets of emails from other people (Lena Dunham, Kirsten Dunst, a few more) about things like money or advice. Why? “How they comport themselves in email is so intimate, almost obscene — a glimpse of them from their own point of view,” July has said. Here’s more on it, if you’re interested.
“I could make whatever decision I wanted… I was in control.“
“Writing is so much about the work of noticing. Fiction writing in particular demands intense noticing — studying how the emotional scaffolding of a human is built.“
“Eighty! I can hardly believe it. I often feel that life is about to begin, only to realize it is almost over.” A tribute to old age, with levity.
“North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build.” The New York Times dedicates an editorial to North Carolina’s political mess.
“Good writing seems to be driven by the part of the mind that we don’t understand, something like harnessed dreaming, and so when you’re in that place it feels separate from you.” The evolution of a first novel. (Lessons: Be patient. Play with your work. Cut stuff.)
Really powerful NYT Modern Love column about domestic violence.
“I’ve been teaching for almost 50 years, and when people ask me what I teach, I tell them empathy.”
Tech anxiety abounds — but what are we really addicted to? “My own view is that life, itself, is the toxic and addictive bit. You cannot stop doing it and doing it and doing it until eventually you die from too much living.”