What sparks your creativity?

Calvin Trillin: Well the mortgage. You mean do I get up in the morning and think, “Wow. I see the end of that rainbow, and there’s something telling me, ‘Write the great American story about parking’”? No. No I don’t have that.

Calvin Trillin: Well it’s hard for me because I do different kinds of writing. And so . . . I mean there are non-fiction writers. I mean the one who has always been sort of my hero is Joseph Mitchell – who was a New Yorker writer for many years who died seven or eight years ago I guess – who I admired partly as just his craft. I mean what he was able to do in a . . . I don’t write the way he writes, but . . . So it’s not a stylistic thing; but I was always amazed that he was able to get the marks of writing off of what he did. And also he approached people head on and without any sort of condescension, or certainly without any fawning. I mean he didn’t write about the people that some reporters fawn over. I mean he wrote about . . . often people on the waterfront or in the fleabag hotels or something like that. The stuff was wonderful, and . . .

And I think as far as humor goes, one writer who is now sort of half forgotten who I have always admired a lot was Peter De Vries. Again, I don’t write the way he writes. I mean he had a lot of word plays, and puns and things; but I think there are a lot of good, humorous writers now who write short pieces that are funny and often wise, which is remarkable when you think of how many other avenues there are for somebody who’s funny.

I mean you know it’s sort of legendary now, but the bright kid from the Harvard Lampoon doesn’t come to The New Yorker now. He goes to Hollywood and writes sit-coms or something or television or movies.

So considering how many other outlets there are, most of which pay a lot better than writing for a magazine, or a newspaper, or even books, it’s remarkable how many of the good ones there are, I think.

 

The New Yorker's Joseph Mitchell has always been an inspiration of craft; Peter De Vries has been an inspiration for humor.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

26 ultra-rich people own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest

The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."

Getty Images and Wikimedia Commons
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
  • In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
  • The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Keep reading Show less

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer
popular

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less