The Critterati pets-in-literary-garb contest ends at midnight tonight! You can view a gallery of the submissions as they appear, and some of them are phenomenal. I especially like Humbert Humbert. I don’t know how these people got their animals to cooperate (drugs, probably). Big Ed and Nadine, aged six months, made it quite clear that under no circumstances would they be dressed up as Lata and Kabir from A Suitable Boy (what am I supposed to do with this tiny cardboard cricket bat now?) Henry and June was also a non-starter, but that might have been unkind to do to siblings, anyway. No one wants to see his sister chew up a garter belt. Evidently I’m not the only one to encounter massive opposition.
Using pen names has been a common practice for, well, a very long time. George Eliot is a nom de plume, as are George Orwell and George Sand. Though not a George, journalist Sarah Hall chose to publish her fiction under a different name. She writes for The Guardian about this decision, the history of the pen name, and the reasons authors continue to use them.
Catching you up to speed with two recent literary controversies: 1) Poets & Writers' MFA rankings kerfuffle gets a climactic and eloquent summary from The Missouri Review's Michael Nye. 2) In response to her Salon article, "How the National Book Awards made themselves irrelevant," Victor LaValle has some fightin' words for Laura Miller.
The novelist Julie Schumacher wrote her latest, Dear Committee Members, entirely in the form of letters of recommendation. The format allowed her to illustrate the travails of a creative writing professor through a medium often ignored in fiction. At The Awl, Jessica Gross and Merve Emre talk about the novel. Pair with: Cathy Day on academia’s novel crisis.
New this week: The Circle by Dave Eggers; Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III; How to Read a Novelist by former Granta editor John Freeman; Solo, a new James Bond novel by William Boyd; and “the first in-depth overview of Wes Anderson’s filmography” by the New York Magazine TV critic Matt Zoller-Seitz.