William Landay's Blog
October 18, 2013
To follow literary fashion, to write for money, to censor your true feelings and thoughts or adopt ideas because they’re popular requires a writer to suppress the very promptings that got him or her writing in the first place. When you started writing, in high school or college, it wasn’t out of a wish to be published, or to be successful, or even to win a lovely award like the one you’re receiving tonight. It was in response to the wondrousness and humiliation of being alive. Remember?
September 30, 2013
September 3, 2013
Defending Jacob hits the shelves in trade paperback today. This is the larger paperback format that many readers and book clubs prefer.
It has been an eventful summer for the book. It was nominated for prizes as best crime novel, best legal novel, best thriller, and best mystery of 2012. These are, respectively, the Hammett, Harper Lee, ITW Thriller and (for best mystery) the Barry and Strand Critics awards — the last of which it won. (The Barry and Hammett Prizes will be awarded in the next few weeks.) It was also named a Massachusetts Must Read Book and nominated for the Massachusetts Book Award.
The book is also this month’s selection for the Target Book Club, for which I (happily) signed ten thousand books. Yes, you read that right: ten thousand. So we have high hopes there, as well.
If you’d like to buy the book in its handsome new edition, you’ll find links to all the online stores here. But, as always, I encourage you to buy from your local independent bookstore if you’re lucky enough to have one.
August 27, 2013
“It’s difficult to accept what your psyche or history dooms you to write, what Faulkner would call your postage stamp of reality. Young writers often mistakenly choose a certain vein or style based on who they want to be, unconsciously trying to blot out who they actually are.”
July 14, 2013
Last Wednesday evening in New York, Defending Jacob won the Strand Magazine Critics Award for best novel (details here). Here I am at the award ceremony with fellow honorees Matthew Quirk, who won the Best Debut Novel award for The 500, and Faye Kellerman, who won a lifetime achievement award. A nice night. Many thanks to the Strand. (Photo by yet another best-selling author, Alan Jacobson.)
July 12, 2013
This is from a series of lovely plaques set into the sidewalk pavement on 41st Street leading up to the New York Public Library. Each includes a brief quote, some inspirational, some about books and reading. It took me twenty minutes to go two blocks. I love, also, that this plaque includes Hemingway’s standing desk (though it is rendered with an Escher-esque perspective error on the right rear leg, which is shown in front of the side brace rather than behind it).
July 11, 2013
In the news today: Albert DeSalvo’s remains will be exhumed for DNA testing in one of the Boston Strangler murders. (Boston Globe story here, Times here.) DeSalvo confessed to thirteen murders, but his confession was riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies, and has always been doubted. Hard not to think of my own novel The Strangler. While researching then publicizing my book, many, many older Bostonians told me how vividly they recall the terror in the city during the Strangler panic.
Image: “Sept. 3, 1962: Boston police detectives worked through the night trying to solve the Strangler case after Jane Sullivan, 67, was discovered on Aug. 30, 1962, throttled to death in her apartment. She was believed to be the sixth victim….” Boston Globe.
June 29, 2013
June 24, 2013
“Yesterday was my Birth Day,” Coleridge wrote in his notebook in 1804, when he was thirty-two. “So completely has a whole year passed, with scarcely the fruits of a month. — O Sorrow and Shame…. I have done nothing!”
In a 2004 piece in the New Yorker, Joan Acocella considers writers block. Why exactly do writers stop writing? (Pictured: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of the first known sufferers of writers block, a condition that does not seem to have existed, as such, before the early 19th century.)
May 22, 2013
It is as good as I had power to make it—by myself. Had I been nervous about its being a perfect piece, and with that view asked advice, and trembled over every page, it would not have been written; for it is not in my nature to fumble—I will write independently.—I have written independently without Judgment. I may write independently, and with Judgment, hereafter. The Genius of Poetry must work out its own salvation in a man: It cannot be matured by law and precept, but by sensation and watchfulness in itself—that which is creative must create itself—In Endymion, I leaped headlong into the sea, and thereby have become better acquainted with the Soundings, the quicksands, and the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore, and piped a silly pipe, and took tea and comfortable advice. I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.
John Keats, in an 1818 letter to his publisher, responding to critics of his poem “Endymion” (punctuation as in original)