Sven Birkerts Archive
Novelists, Vladimir Nabokov once said, are “more fully at home on the surface of the present than in the ooze of the past.” Great memoirists, on the other hand, are not fully at home in the present until they navigate their way through this ooze.
Sharply written, these intimate and insightful exchanges dispel the myth that perhaps we all, writers or not, have come to believe about our own narratives, our own lives: “The worst story that we can tell ourselves is that we are alone.”
Kurt Vonnegut, in A Man Without a Country (as quoted by Chuck Klosterman), writes, “I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.” Yet books set before the ubiquity of the internet often grace bestseller lists and win
As we look forward to updating the Ploughshares blog for the new year, we’re also looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009. This week we’re introducing a new roundup post that explores the archives. Each Monday we’ll gather past posts around a certain
1. How do your essay ideas typically come to you? Lia Purpura: Let me reroute the notion of “typical” here. Single words, images, scents, incongruities, awe, toothache—all of these offer possibilities, though the moment of launch is always, at heart, mysterious. Knowing what starts you up shouldn’t in any way