paper trail

Nov 4, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

Adam Levin

We're four days into National Novel Writing Month, the annual project that encourages procrastinating would-be authors to plow ahead and pen a 50,000 word novel from scratch in thirty days (quantity over quality is the rule), and fifty-thousand words have already been spilled about the merits of participating. At Salon, Laura Miller criticizes the endeavor, writing "the last thing the world needs is more bad books," but Jacket Copy's Carolyn Kellogg disagrees, as does Ron Hogan at Beatrice, and some folks who participate in NaNoWrMo, lodging their anti-Miller complaints on their blogs and Twitter. But wait, shouldn't these folks be writing their novels? At least a novel excuse, if not an actual novel, has emerged from the debate: Writing a righteous defense of NaNoWrMo beats plodding through a rough draft any day.

An editor of the literary blog The Rumpus writes of the site's unexpected popularity: "it’s been hard not to notice that the success of the Rumpus has led to a bit of a Rumpus identity freak-out."

V. S. Naipaul's The Masque of Africa finds sir Vidia back on the continent he once declared didn't have a future, to pen what Thomas Meaney has called "a searching inquiry into Africa's past with an eye to its future," but as Giles Foden observes in the Ugandan publication The Independent, Naipaul "never writes of Africa with anything remotely approaching love." Post-colonial literature scholar E. Kim Stone answers questions about African fiction in the US today, while Rwandan author Kelvin Odoobo updates Binyavanga Wainaina's satirical essay "How to Write About Africa," noting the opportunity "to show the world the real Africa, not the one demonized by western media. James Gibbons writes in last summer's Bookforum of the continent's literary boom: "The sporadic media coverage of Africa runs a familiar gamut, broadcasting a continent in perpetual—and, it is implied, essential—peril. The challenge of African writing is to provide some new news [and] African writers have risen to the task."

Adam Levin is reading tonight at Brooklyn's BookCourt, from his new bravura 1,000 plus page debut novel, The Instructions, narrated by an oddly eloquent and knowing ten-year old revolutionary who might just be the Jewish messiah.