In Defense of Clichés, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Revisited, 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:

Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum, an organization that provides literary programs and sanctuary for exiled and endangered writers, will celebrate its tenth anniversary tomorrow evening. The celebration will honor five exiled writers: Huang Xiang, Horacio Castellanos Moya, Khet Mar, Israel Centeno, and Yaghoub Yadali. Admission is free and open to the public.

Over at the Guardian, Orin Hargraves makes a case for clichés, noting their useful functions in language by “provid[ing] a stock of dependable formulas for conveying the ordinary.” Now isn’t that a fine kettle of fish!

Harry L. Katz, author of the new book Mark Twain’s America, lists his picks for the ten best Mark Twain books that reveal the writer’s singular character. (Publishers Weekly)

“The stories are gory, disgusting, psychologically complex, and frequently violent, with just enough humor to keep you turning the page.” Fiction writers Matt Bell and Anne Valente revisit Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the famed 1981 book—and its two sequels—written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. “All of these stories create a deeply unsettling mood and tone, and all of them push our understanding of the world further off kilter.” (Electric Literature)

Book jacket designer Peter Mendelsun discusses his process with NPR. Mendelsun has designed between six hundred and one thousand book covers. “I think of a book jacket as being sort of like a visual reminder of the book, but…it's also a souvenir of the reading experience. Reading takes place in this nebulous kind of realm, and in a way, the jacket is part of the thing that you bring back from that experience. It's the thing that you hold on to.”

Read an original “Exquisite Corpse” story composed by fifteen renowned authors at T Magazine. The Exquisite Corpse is a collaborative story creation technique invented by the French Surrealists around 1918.

“[T]aboos and censorship encourage creativity, of a kind. But what happens if the main obstacles to free and direct expression fall away?” Read Tim Parks’s essay on the current state of fiction and creativity in a society where nothing is hidden, and where taboos have all but disappeared. (New York Review of Books)

U.S. tourist David Willis was accidentally locked inside London’s Waterstones bookstore in Trafalger Sqaure last night. When Willis was unable to contact security personnel, he took to social media. Willis tweeted for help, and was finally released after two hours. There are worse places to be locked inside, right? (Guardian)