Chicago Instagram residency day 3: A manuscript page

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Hi, this is Caleb Crain, on day 3 of my Instagram residency for the Chicago Review of Books. I'm a Luddite, as I confessed yesterday, and I always write fiction by hand (though I always write nonfiction on a computer—sorry, I can't explain the discrepancy). Here's a photo of a page of the manuscript for my new novel, "Overthrow," which comes out on Tuesday from @VikingBooks. It's from an early scene in the book, and I admit that I chose this page because the revisions on it look so impressively elaborate. (On many other pages, the marking up isn't so rococo.) My method is that the left-hand pages are for scribbles, and the right-hand pages are where I try to write fair copy, once I think I know where I'm going. But sometimes, like here, even on the right-hand page I'm still going for a wander. I start out writing double-line-spaced, but on this page the revisions have crept into the interstitial lines that would have been empty.

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Boston Globe on “Overthrow”: “It risks something”

There’s a spirited, insightful, and generous review of Overthrow in the Boston Globe by Anthony Domestico this weekend, and I feel very honored and grateful. It’s uncanny to see something one wrote reflected back through a sympathetic critic’s understanding, and it’s sort of only now that I’m realizing how “fantastical,” as Domestico puts it, the novel is.

Chicago Instagram residency, day 2: Luddite writing tools

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My name is Caleb Crain, and I'm a Luddite. Today I'm displaying my tools for writing. (My novel "Overthrow" comes out next week from @VikingBooks, and I'm doing a residency here at the Chicago Review of Books' Instagram account.) I write fiction longhand, and I tend to start scribbling in pencil, preferably with the Staedtler Mars Lumograph HB, though I have tried to be unfaithful to it with the Uni Mitsubishi Hi-Uni HB and the Uni Mitsubishi 9000 HB, and they and I have had some nice flings. I have no ambivalence about pens: the best is the Uni-ball Signo UM-151 Gel Pen (0.38 mm). The pencil sharpener pictured here is a Boston Vacuum Mount, inherited from my late father-in-law. I keep in supply four kinds of notebooks: the Staples Sustainable Earth composition notebook (for writing fiction); the Midori MD notebook, A5, lined (for keeping a journal); the Apica CD 11, A5, 7mm rule (for taking notes about books in); and the Muji Passport Notebook (for taking notes about everyday life in). My only phone is the ugly dumb burner phone here. Next to it is an Ipod Touch, which in my writing space has no internet access, because there's no Wi-fi, and which I use for the Oxford Shorter English Dictionary, Logeion, the Chambers Thesaurus, Lingea's Handy Lex English-Czech Large Dictionary, and a few foreign language dictionaries. The little white rope-like thing on the left is the tail of a librarian's snake; it has bullets inside, to make it heavy enough to hold open the pages of books. Pictured is a fine Staedtler eraser but I like the Uni Boxy eraser marginally more.

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