Maybe you really want a mediocre crossword puzzle to pass the time. Or you need a map of your destination airport to find the best route to the Chili’s Too. But for the most part, the in-flight magazine hasn’t typically ranked a lot higher than the barf bag as something you ever want to remove from your seat-back pocket.
Well those were the old days — before Rhapsody.
Actually, those are still the current days if you’re not flying first class on United Airlines. But if you are, you will find what the New York Times calls a “lofty literary journal” that publishes “original works by literary stars like Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Moody, Amy Bloom, Emma Straub and [Anthony] Doerr, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction two weeks ago.”
This is undoubtedly a cool, if weird, thing. Great writers are getting solid audience exposure and, presumably, actual paychecks from a major company. For United, Rhapsody “brings a patina of sophistication to its first-class service, along with other opulent touches like mood lighting, soft music and a branded scent,” according to the airline’s managing director of marketing and product development.
Also this: “Two of the magazine’s seven staff members hold graduate degrees in creative writing.” So it also means that at least two people with graduate degrees in creative writing have gotten actual jobs.
Read the full story “Rhapsody, a Lofty Literary Journal, Perused at 39,000 Feet”
If you were debating whether or not to take that loan to get your Master’s degree in creative writing, the New York Times T Magazine has just the thing to send you running to the closest available co-signer.
In their most recent issue, T features famous writers in the spaces where they work. Witness Colson Whitehead casually sipping from his mug among his brilliant clutter. Observe Mona Simpson, red-lining stories on a reclaimed wood kitchen table in what appears to be a Williams Sonoma catalog shoot. Ponder whether Joyce Carol Oates has more published books, or more pictures of her own face in her office.
These are the idyllic lands of sagging shelves, sloped ceilings and soft light through the window. The kinds of rooms that most writers wish they were actually heading to when they go to whatever restaurant or cubicle where they spend their money-making time. Whitehead says that even having a great room isn’t enough, and he moves his desk around wondering “Where’s the mojo these days? What room, what corner? How about by the window, one story above the street?” I did most of my best writing so far in a near-frozen storage space/extra bedroom facing a filthy Washington, DC alleyway — a view that didn’t matter because the sun was rarely up yet, and the dust-grimed blinds were always down. But I wrote some things there that I still find appealing.
If you have a great place where you get your writing done, send it to us. We’ll put you on the internet.
– Michael Moats
The internet has been lighting up recently with things Jonathan Franzen hates. Well here’s something he will love, and we can only hope it gets to him on whatever mode of communication he finds least annoying, like a rotary phone or a handwritten letter:
Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
As of a few hours ago, Munro was second in the running according to London oddsmaker Ladbroke. She was a 4-1 favorite, behind Haruki Murakami, who had a 5-2 chance of winning — but didn’t. Either way, these two leading contenders demonstrate the value of basically writing the same kind of story over and over again.
Other possibilities were Joyce Carol Oates and Peter Nadas, both 8-1 odds, Thomas Pynchon at 12-1, and Bob Dylan, who was at 50-1 but is more likely to write a song in which the nominees and/or their character feature prominently than to actually win the prize.
Munro is said to have retired after the release of her last book Dear Life. But if she does pick up the pen again, we at Fiction Advocate look forward to reading more stories about a young woman who grew up poor in Canada, leaves home, gets married, explores her sensuality, commits adultery, gets divorced, and wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Read more about Munro here. And this is why we know Franzen will be happy.
– Michael Moats