Alexander Pope – Image via Wikipedia

1. You love the book, not the writer. You don’t care about the writer. They could be a talking gazelle. You don’t care. You’re in for trouble if you like the writer. No good can come from this.

2. The only kind of reading that’s worth any respect is a close reading. You get close to the text. Consider every line and it’s place in the whole.

3. Don’t overpraise. In our culture everyone who can write 300 pages is considered a genius. I get carried away when I love a book. But don’t overpraise…”commend” as the good AP says. (Alexander Pope)

4. Advice from JR: let the reader know what it’s like to read that book.

5. If you’ve failed on cardinal point number one (see above) then don’t write about them anymore. It’s revolting to write about your friends. You’ll hate yourself in the morning…or should.

6.Writers are never really too busy. More precisely, they may be too busy to talk to you. Stop reading them. Absolutely stop writing about them.

7. Interview advice: If you come up with dumb-ass questions to ask a writer like you’d find in the New York Times or worse, Vanity Fair, then you’re failing at your duty as a blogger. Find interesting questions to ask. I like long questions about the book or very short questions mixed up with the long ones.

8. More Interview advice: I never ask personal questions. I only ask about the book. But if you can find deep-sourced questions about the book to ask, then the writer can’t help but tell you about themselves. The book is the writer.

9. American literary culture can get so stale. I wonder if it’s like that in other countries? Writers establish themselves after long struggles and are then declared living fossils. Most are not worth reading anymore from the POV of a blogger. Okay, you’ve won the Nobel Prize. All that means to me is that I can’t talk to you anymore. How does that help me? I broke this rule when I wrote about V.S. Naipaul. But I plead guilty to loving his book.

10. Read only the writers who will talk to you. There is no greater thrill than reading a novel, being amazed, and knowing you can ask the writer about it. Not that you’ll learn much from asking the writer questions. You’ll learn that literature is mysterious. Not even the writers can explain it.