The Culturephiles want to put the kibosh on the “open letter” bit. What better way to tackle that than with an open letter.
The Cambridge University Press just published The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Vol. 2. (Vol. 1 can be found here.) That alone is worth your time, but as an added bonus the Press’ blog has compiled a partial syllabus for the author — a sampling of the titles “on the writer’s nightstand … from 1941 to 1956.”
“Dear Mrs D, Thanks for your homework. Your idea of writing a Christmas ghost story was a good one, but it’s not really the kind of thing I tend to do — it’s a little bit too genre for my tastes. Try Kevin, who sits next to me. He loves that stuff.” Over at McSweeney’s, Nick Hornby advises his son on excuses for failing to hand in his English homework, excuses which Hornby learned are acceptable during a thirty-year career in journalism, books, and film.
VIDA, an organization that promotes gender parity in the literary arts, has tallied up the 2011 bylines and book reviews from some of the bigger magazines . Granta was the only publication to achieve parity, but they did have an issue devoted entirely to feminism, so that may be skewing the numbers. The Atlantic, The London Review of Books, and Harper’s are not making the cut. While institutionalized misogyny in any profession presents a problem, gender quotas are probably not the answer.