Twenty years after the arrest of the Unabomber, novelist William T. Vollmann recalls just how baffled the FBI was in its search for the Ted Kaczynski, the man who mailed a number of bombs in an attempt to advance his antigovernment and antitechnology worldview. Vollmann should know a thing or two about the FBI’s fumbling for answers: the novelist himself was for a time considered a suspect.
Kevin Young, whose Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems was just released, discusses his writing process (he works from 10am until 4pm, “once Judge Judy comes on”) and gives a sneak peak into his Atlanta studio: “I do keep some friends’ art here, along with some of my late father’s things, and black dolls. I also keep old blue bottles on one or two windowsills: It’s a black Southern belief that blue glass keeps out bad spirits. So far, so good.”
Until April 12, you can bid on a lunch with Ira Silverberg, the former literary agent who is now a senior editor at Simon & Schuster who will “listen to your book pitch, answer publishing questions, and offer valuable advice.” The bid is currently at $1,800. Proceeds go to to Manhattan’s Public School 41.
At an April 2 conference in Boston, writer Gay Talese claimed that, with the exception of Mary McCarthy and George Eliot, women writers have not inspired him.
In his dispatch from the AWP Conference, which was held in LA this year, Boris Kachka reports on three writers who discussed film adaptations of their work: Cheryl Strayed, Susan Orlean, and Stephen Elliott. Elliott spoke of Parmela Romanowsky’s adaptation of his memoir The Adderall Diaries, which was orchestrated by James Franco, and is set to open this spring. According to Elliott, the experience was a strange one, and Franco tried to prevent him from attending the film’s premiere. But Elliott has no hard feelings. He has made his own movie, After Adderall, in which he comically dwells on the absurdity of watching someone else manipulate his life story.
Eileen Myles offers a pithy reflection on fame: “Fame is a Xerox machine. The culture produces all these strange copies of you, none of which are really you.” She also says that she is currently writing a book “about a time-traveling dog.”