Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" helps remind the Joy Luck Club author to capture the "microscopic" details that make her characters unique.
Committing the words of Wallace Stevens to memory unlocked an emotional and physical magic within her, Bender says.
Author Paul Auster says Beckett shows how important laughter is in writing.
Russell Banks's biggest inspiration isn't another author—it's a gravestone inscription lurking near his desk.
The Eat, Pray, Love author celebrates the late Jack Gilbert, whose works challenge readers to find joy within suffering.
Bob Shacochis confronts the tension between exploring the everyday "frivolity" of our private worlds and making broad statements about the one we share.
Young-adult novelist Robin Wasserman says the famous horror writer empowered her as a teen reader by capturing the uneasy teenage phase between childhood and adulthood.
Alexie never thought he could leave his reservation to pursue a writing career—but a line written by Adrian C. Louis taught him to venture outside the "reservation of his mind."
Andre Dubus III, author of Dirty Love and The House of Sand and Fog, explains why the best work happens when you "back the fuck off."
His new book translates works by Karl Kraus, whose misgivings toward progress mirror Franzen's belief that technology can be "very harmful" to artistic production.
Author Ron Carlson was an unassuming, baseball-playing college student until a Fitzgerald story turned him into an impassioned English-major library vandal.
Novelist Paul Harding explains what Cheever's short story "The Jewels of the Cabots" taught him about portraying humans' contradictory impulses.
In 1972, Daniel Woodrell traded part of his lunch for a copy of Ernest Hemingway's posthumous novel. After he read it, he became determined to be a writer.
Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light, believes that "re-creating your entire life is a form of reinvention on par with the greatest works of literature."
Jonathan Franzen, Margaret Atwood, David Gilbert, Roxane Gay, and other writers share their thoughts on what makes an inviting and memorable opening sentence.
The author of horror classics like The Shining and its 2013 sequel Doctor Sleep says the best writers hook their readers with voice, not just action.
The radio host accompanied his friend and collaborator to a dance-company show five months before his death in 2012—and inspired a passage in Rakoff's newly published book.
Hanan Al-Shaykh, author of The Story of Zahra and Beirut Blues, puts new emphasis on the lessons about compassion in Shahrazad's—or Scheherazade's—famous stories.
Cotton Tenants, the long-lost magazine story that led to And Now Let Us Praise Famous Men, finally sees publication—at a time when its message seems more urgent than ever.
The author of All the Dead Yale Men doesn't just tweak when he rewrites—he tries on entirely new points of view and genre styles to learn more about the story he's telling.