Fiction’s Spotlight on Solitude, Bad Advice From Great Authors, and More


Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today's stories:

The recipients of the National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced last night. Ross Gay was awarded the poetry prize for his collection Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude; Paul Beatty won in fiction for The Sellout; and Maggie Nelson took home the prize in criticism for The Argonauts. Read more about the ceremony and winners at the Grants & Awards Blog.

“The novel is, and has always been, a moving target. Once a popular idea about its inner nature or social function takes root, some novelists at least can be relied upon to resist it. At the Atlantic, Columbia professor Nicholas Dames explores the current trend of autofiction and examines how certain acclaimed novelists’ use of the first-person enhances loneliness and estrangement. “The choice of monologue over character perspective, or self-display over empathic connection, is such a refusal.”

Meanwhile, author Pauls Toutonghi writes at the Millions about the “vast new space opening up in the fiction world” for writers of historical fiction.

Attempting to heed writing advice from famous authors can be alluring, but sometimes, the tips can actually stifle one’s work, as Danielle Dutton points out. (Literary Hub)

A lost manuscript by horror author H. P. Lovecraft, titled The Cancer of Superstition, was recently discovered in a magic memorabilia collection. Harry Houdini commissioned Lovecraft to write the treatise on superstition in 1926, but the magician died shortly after, and the manuscript was never published. Chicago auction house Potter & Potter will auction off the thirty-one-page manuscript on April 9.

The editors at the Poetry Foundation provide a primer to the life and work of influential American poet Elizabeth Bishop.

Here is your weekend plan: Listen to Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick read in full by actors including Tilda Swinton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry, and more. (Open Culture)

And now, the prize you have been waiting all week to read about: the Bookseller’s Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. Prize administrator Horace Bent said, “When future historians write about 2016, they will inevitably look at two seismic events: the closest Diagram Prize race of all time, and the election of President Trump, which led to the downfall of Western civilization.” And the winning title is…Too Naked for the Nazis.