Are critically acclaimed authors really terrible? Is feminism bad for women? New York Magazine runs down the greatest hits of what appears, in hindsight, to have been the Decade of Counterintuition (and, in the process, catalogues many of my personal bêtes noires).
In memory of Peter Matthiessen, The Missouri Review has unlocked an interview with him from 1989. Matthiessen detailed the beginning of his writing career. “I started my first novel and sent off about four chapters and waited by the post office for praise to roll in, calls from Hollywood, everything. Finally my agent sent me a letter that said ‘Dear Peter, James Fenimore Cooper wrote this a hundred and fifty years ago, only he wrote it better. Yours, Bernice.’ I probably needed that; it was very healthy.” For more Matthiessen, you can read one of his best travel essays or his new novel, In Paradise.
Gary Indiana posits that “no current literary label appealingly describes the kind of narratives [Renata Adler’s] Speedboat and Pitch Dark are.” This might be true. However in the name of moving forward with discussion, perhaps we can all go with Matthew Spektor’s summation of Adler’s debut novel: “if it’s ‘like’ anything at all, a steeplechase of [dazzling] hurdles could be it.”
Barrelhouse recently revamped their website, but that’s not even the most exciting news out of the D.C.-based literary outfit this week. No, sir. The most exciting news is that the magazine’s newest online issue is “focused on the theme of 1980s professional wrestling.” The list of contributors includes Aaron Burch, Matthew Duffus, and Jeannine Mjoseth.
For a man who’s retired, Philip Roth is still oddly present in the literary world. Ever since he announced his intention to quit writing, he’s made a stream of public appearances, including an awards ceremony at Yaddo one week after claiming he’d never appear on stage again. So what gives? In The Baffler, J.C. Hallman explains why writers can never really quit, in a piece that nicely complements our own take on literary retirement. FYI, Hallman has written for us.