Eight Reasons You Should Watch Wonder Boys, Like, Right Now

I was very sad to learn today that Curtis Hanson had died. He is known for LA Confidential and 8 Mile much better than this little-known gem, which grossed $33 million at the box office (with a budget of $55 million… ouch).

In Wonder Boys, Michael Douglas plays Grady Tripp, a writing professor with a never-ending novel manuscript, a pregnant mistress, and a suspicious editor. It’s in that category of intellectual indie-style movies that don’t seem to have a plot and yet are chock-full of events (this one has a murder and a car chase, among others, that have very little to do with the actual meat of the story). And it’s based on a novel—Michael Chabon’s of the same name, also extremely good—which means that it was always inherently in danger of plotlessness.

Am I not making it sound great? Trust me, it is. Yeah, it’s quirky; yeah, it’s got Tobey Maguire in it and he’s kind of annoying sometimes; yeah, a lot of us are kind of over that quirky-indie-movie-that-goes-nowhere genre. But—especially if you’re a writer, but even if you’re not—you should Totally. Watch. This.

Here are eight reasons why.

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An Aspiring Writer

If at thirteen you can write ten good lines, at twenty you’ll write ten times ten–if the gods are kind. Stop messing over months, though–and don’t imagine you’re a genius either, if you have written ten decent lines. I think there’s something trying to speak through you–but you’ll have to make yourself a fit instrument for it. You’ve got to work hard and sacrifice–by gad, girl, you’ve chosen a jealous goddess. And she never lets her votaries go–even when she shuts her ears for ever to their plea.

–Lucy Maud Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

Links We Loved This Week — 7/8/16

A few words from Toni Morrison on writing blackness in The Bluest Eye (via The Guardian):

She would not, she decided, try to “explain” black life to a white audience. She would not write from the position of outsider to her own experience. She took issue with, for example, the title of Ralph Ellison’s famous novel, Invisible Man; as she told the New Yorker in 2003, “Invisible to whom? Not to me.”

She wanted to write from within. It was the era of “black is beautiful”; everywhere she looked in New York, the black power movement was promoting that slogan. It struck her both as true – “of course” – and at the same time, ahistorical and reactive. “All the books that were being published by African-American guys were saying ‘screw whitey’, or some variation of that. Not the scholars but the pop books. And the other thing they said was, ‘You have to confront the oppressor.’ I understand that. But you don’t have to look at the world through his eyes. I’m not a stereotype; I’m not somebody else’s version of who I am. And so when people said at that time black is beautiful – yeah? Of course. Who said it wasn’t? So I was trying to say, in The Bluest Eye, wait a minute. Guys. There was a time when black wasn’t beautiful. And you hurt.”

These photos of retired trains are gorgeous and eerie.

Lithub published a conversation between Nicole Dennis-Benn and Chinelo Okparanta, two big new novelists who happen to both be black and LGBTQ. Their conversation is full of wisdom about writing and literature, including the role of race and representation in writing, as in the quotation below from Okparanta:

It seems to me that as writers we do have the right to tell any stories we want to tell. As fiction writers, we can make up anything we want and present it as something akin to fact. This is the power of fiction. But where national politics, racial agendas—those sorts of things—are concerned, it seems to me that we, as writers, should also be conscious of social consequence.

We’re very sad about losing Luke’s crinkly smile, but we agree with THR that by cutting Layla, Nashville is losing its most complex and interesting character, with the most potential for growth (she’s basically season one Juliette). We would also add that Layla finishing her arc as a manipulative, deceitful villain is borderline antifeminist, not to mention that she has the best voice of any actor on that show.

 

Links We Loved This Week: 6/4/16-6/10/16

UnREAL: “Walter White in power heels: UnREAL is evil, twisted, unmissable TV” from The Guardian

Ploughshares takes a look at literary friendships throughout history. Didn’t know that Oscar Wilde inspired Count Dracula, but how PERFECT that he did!

The Tiny Doors art project in Atlanta shows you that “Not all doors need to be opened to be interesting” (via Atlas Obscura)

At The Millions, Kaulie Lewis writes about writerly jealousy. “When we say, ‘all of my ideas have already been had,’ what we’re expressing isn’t jealousy, it’s doubt in our own creativity, in our worthiness to write about anything at all.”