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How Should an Author Be


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Chad Harbach, the editor and introducer of MFA vs NYC, calls his book a “jointly written novel” whose “composite heroine is the fiction writer circa 2014.” What better way to empathize with the composite heroine of this jointly written novel than to read her adventures in the year in which she lives and breathes and, hopefully, still writes? So the first thing I felt upon cracking MFA vs NYC in Istanbul, 5,628 miles away from Iowa and 5,014 from NYC, circa 2014, was a sense of freshness and immediacy. I associate those feelings with social media rather than books, and TV shows like Girls rather than essay collections on creative writing. This sense of newness was surprising, given that Harbach’s essay, which gives the book its title and kickstarts its central discussion, was published in 2010.

Although some of its material is a few years old, this is no book for old men. Nor is it written by them, but for one notable exception. The pieces in the book are concerned with a fresh question that most young-to-middle-aged English-speaking writers of our era are presumably asking themselves a lot: How should a fiction-writing person be in the world of American fiction, which seems profoundly divided between a university-based creating writing workshops culture, and a New York-based publishing and freelancing-until-the-moment-of-success-arrives culture?

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Hannah’s Memoir on Girls

Or at least a voice. Of a generation

Last night on Girls we got a further glimpse at the content of Hannah Horvath’s long-gestating memoir—you know, the book that’s going to make her “the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice. Of a generation.” And it sounds pretty fabulous.

CAROLINE: You just have to write a whole new bunch of wonderful stories, that’s all.

HANNAH: A whole new bunch of wonderful stories? My whole life was in that book. Everything that’s ever happened to me. Okay? The handjob kidney stone. The time I fell asleep on a pile of pizza boxes. When I made out with the Cuban refugee then the thing happened with the glitter pens. All of it’s in there!

Combine this with the “first chapter” of Hannah’s book that was published on Nerve.com, and it sounds like this fictional character is ready for a real-life book contract. We love it when that happens. Where can we pre-order this thing?

– Brian Hurley

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