Links: Gathering Dust

Ann Patchett figures nobody’s read her 1994 novel, Taft.

Cormac McCarthy has won the PEN/Saul Bellow award for lifetime achievement, which should make Michael J. Fox happy.

John Jeter
, author of The Plunder Room, explains why breaking into publishing is a little like his day job of running a music club.

Don’t start an interview with Tobias Wolff by asking about writing process.

Identity Theory’s James Warner avoids a similar kerfuffle in his interview with Yiyun Li, by simply asking what questions she prefers to avoid. This, for once, elicits an interesting reply:

I don’t particularly like to be asked about my views of political situations, both current and historical. As a fiction writer, I believe that what needs to be said about any political situation can not be separated from my fiction, and I feel that I have said enough in my work.

(Though if you write a novel set during late stages of the Cultural Revolution—and The Vagrants is a great book—it’s hard to be surprised that somebody might ask for your thoughts on China today.)

Vladimir Nabokov once wrote down some impressions on the critics who contributed to an issue of TriQuarterly commemorating his 70th birthday—with high praise for scholar Alfred Appel Jr., who died last Sunday. (via Sam Jones)

Independent bookstores around the country are being decimated. Except the ones in Martha’s Vineyard.

Ann Patchett Will Have Her Revenge on Iowa City

Bel Canto author Ann Patchett tells the Palm Beach Post about the nonfiction book about cops that didn’t come off, her friendship with opera singer Renee Fleming, and, most pointedly, why the Iowa Writers Workshop wasn’t for her:

Who were your teachers at the Writer’s Workshop in Iowa?

That’s not an interesting question. The interesting question is who were my teachers at Sarah Lawrence: Allan Gurganus, Grace Paley and Russell Banks. All three were just incredible and life-changing. By comparison, Iowa was anti-climactic. At Sarah Lawrence, those three people were on the faculty; they were committed to the school and the students. The Iowa people were trying to get by with as little contact with the students as possible.