Writing-pagesDustin Illingworth at Literary Hub:

Few literary artifacts remain as consistently enigmatic as the author’s journal. It seems to me that the more we read of them, the more elusive their provenance becomes. The very names we employ—the aforementioned “journal,” the stuffy “diary,” the tepid “notebook”—are failures of imagination, if not outright misreadings. Staid synopses and ossified lives these are not. Rather, what we find within their pages are wild, shapeless, violent things; elegant confessions and intricate codes; portraits of anguish; topographies of mind. Prayers, experiments, lists, rivalries, and rages are all at home here, interbred, inextricable from one another. A piece of petty gossip sits astride a transcendent realization. A proclamation of self-loathing becomes a paean to literary art. News of publication shares the page with the most banal errands imaginable. That juxtaposition, in which the profound and the prosaic rub elbows, creates the space for something like a revelation of character, one that finds the writer enmeshed in the sordidness of life, either striving to ennoble it or wading in its depths like warm mud. It is hardly surprising, then, that this is a portrait enriched by trivia, vulgarity, ennui, and triumph, by messiness, by the glitter and churn of raw thought. Far from the intimidating polish of more august work, the author’s journal reveals the human substance beneath the cultural effigy, mediumistic insofar as it is both supremely meditative and utterly marginal. For fans of literary biography—or anyone interested in the unrehearsed inner-workings of genius—this is an addicting pleasure indeed.

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