Maya Angelou is profiled by the Boston Globe. Several paragraphs focus upon Angelou’s effect on a crowd. There are comparisons made between Angelou and Lorraine Hansberry. In fact, the general gist is that if you haven’t read Angelou, you probably should, though without explaining why and without outlining an argument. It’s the kind of tepid summary that spells out what’s wrong with current book coverage. Instead, of inviting entree into the I’ve Read At Least Three Angelou Books And I Liked ‘Em club, the article admonishes why you should read it in a way that resembles an Atkins Diet manifesto, though without the immediate payoff.
The Age notes that spending ten minutes a day writing in a journal improves mental health. However, writing three hours a day and failing to publish a book after ten years will turn you into Laura Miller.
The new Paris Review is up. Michael Frayn offers some interesting advice: ” Let me say for a start that I don’t think it is a very good idea to write different sorts of things. If I were to give serious practical advice to a young writer about how to succeed I would say: Write the same book, or the same play, over and over again, just very slightly different, so that people get used to it. It takes some time, but if you do it often enough, finally people will get the hang of it, and get familiar with it, and they’ll like it. ”
Of course, Frayn notes that he hasn’t done this personally. I’d like to think that this revelation is a circumlocutory way of taking out the competition. But it bears striking similarities to recent quotes by Bill Keller.
Newsday interviews Ana Menendez, a Cuban exile turned novelist. She once believed that Fidel had supernatural powers. But she changed her mind after reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, realizing that just about everybody does. Millenialists are courting Ms. Menendez as a possible spokesperson.
The NYRoB has a Helen Keller pfoile up. It quotes heavily from the correspondence between Henry James and Keller and examines their relationship.
And the Post dwells upon confession, trying to find the line when a memoir or an essay becomes Too Much Information (or TMI, to use Post vernacular). Susan Shapiro notes that her memoir Five Men Who Broke My Heart has resulted in her husband writing a response, The Bitch Beside Me. And Dale Peck has responded to this memoir by writing The Bitch Inside Me.