In books: writing about writing, Marquez still writing, a reading contest, IMPAC shortlist and more
William Zinsser, author of the textbook "On Writing Well" (now in its seventh edition) writes about the origins of the book for the American Scholar. "I saw that I was long overdue to stop trying to write like E.B. White — and trying to be E.B. White, the sage essayist.... The personal voice of the teacher, not the literary voice of the essayist, was the one I wanted narrating my book." Zinsser's memoir "Writing Places: The Life Journey of a Writer and Teacher," is due out in May.
In February, his agent said that he "won't write any more books," but Gabriel Garcia Marquez says he is still writing, thank you very much. "I don't do anything but write," the 82-year-old told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
If you think you're a good judge of writing (as you're here, I'd say your taste is unassailable), maybe you should join literary agent Nathan Bransford's Be an Agent for a Day contest. The details are on his blog; basically it boils down to reading -- and responding to -- 50 queries in a day. The fun part is finding out, afterward, which queries became real live books. The hard part is that only five positive responses are allowed, and you're supposed to be kind.
The IMPAC Awards shortlist was announced last week; the Dublin-based award accepts nominations from 100 librarians across the world and then whittles that very long list down. With Junot Diaz ("The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao"), Travis Holland ("The Archivist's Story"), David Leavitt ("The Indian Clerk") and Michael Thomas ("Man Gone Down") among the eight authors remaining, Americans make up 50% of the shortlist.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Pedro Simões via Flickr