Growing a Literary Garden, the Art of the Sex Scene, 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:

In West Bloomfield, Michigan, high school English teacher Jennifer McQuillan spent the summer collecting clippings from the homesteads of American authors—including those of Dickinson, Fitzgerald, Twain, Whitman, and Vonnegut—and is using them to plant a “literary garden” in her school's courtyard. Listen to the story at NPR.

Writing a good sex scene can be difficult (failure in the practice is in fact so common that it spawned the notorious Bad Sex in Fiction Awards). At the New Yorker, Garth Greenwell looks at art and sex scenes—and the art of the sex scene—in the work of novelist Lidia Yuknavitch.

With summer quickly careening to a close, it’s perhaps the perfect time to read (or reread) John Cheever’s iconic story “The Swimmer.” At the Millions, Nick Ripatrazone offers a close read of the story, which was originally published in the New Yorker more than fifty years ago, calling it “the perfect read for the waning days of summer, when early evening thunderstorms break the heat, and when children play under moonlight—knowing their freedom will soon end.”

Not sure what else to read in the last days of August? Check out President Obama’s summer reading list for ideas. (Electric Literature)

Alternatively, you might turn to this somewhat loftier list—what the Guardian boldly calls the “100 best novels written in English.”

A number of initiatives to combat “book deserts”—areas that lack easy access to libraries—have cropped up around the world, including book vending machines in Washington, D.C., and book buses in Africa, Asia, and South America. In Seattle and San Francisco, books on bikes are also gaining speed. (GOOD Magazine)

In Cluj-Napoca, Romania, meanwhile, travelers reading books on city buses were awarded free bus rides earlier this summer. The initiative, which ran for a week in June, was proposed to the city’s mayor by Victor Miron, a book-lover and Cluj-Napoca resident, in an effort to encourage more people to read on public transportation. “I believe that it’s better to promote reading by rewarding those who read, instead of criticizing the ones who don’t,” Miron said. (Independent)

Having trouble getting your kids to sleep? Try this self-published picture book, written by Swedish psychologist Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin, that induces “gentle hypnosis.” (CBS News)