Category Archives: Sharon Olds

Roundup: Spell It Out

Motoko Rich‘s fine story about the differences in reading habits between generations comes with a great Web-only sidebar pointing to supporting documents, surveys, studies, tests, and more. Among the fun stuff is the site for UDL Editions, an effort by a nonprofit to produce Web-only versions of classics that are interactive. Their online books have clickable words that point to an illustrated glossary unique to the book; see, for instance, the UDL version of Jack London‘s The Call of the Wild. The “Stop and Think!” prompts aren’t particularly noxious or preachy, and they can be scaled by reading level; I would’ve been thrilled to have access to something like this growing up.

Sharon Olds made a vow to Satan when she was in her early 20s and now she’s a famous poet.

George Pelecanos: “I can honestly say you’ll never read a straight mystery from me again.”

Kent Haruf‘s papers have been acquired (PDF) by Southern California’s Huntington Library. In relation to the news, he talks to the Pasadena Star-News about his slow, often frustrating climb as a writer:

You have to have a lot of patience and a lot of belief in yourself. I was 40 before I published anything and I had been writing hard for about 15 years before then. I had gone to the Writer’s Workshop in Iowa and studied writing formally, but it took me a long time before I had gotten good enough to have written something that people would want to buy. I taught graduate students in MFA programs and they were talented people. What happens to most people is that it’s too difficult to make a go of it and most people quit. Then they find out that the things that they do is perhaps not as satisfying, but maybe a little more easier.

So, in my estimation, you have to stay with it despite everything. You have to find some way to believe in yourself in some profound way that’s unshakable. I see it as a small flame that I have to attend to everyday. If I don’t do that, it’s in danger of going out.