Guernica picks a scuffle with the VQR‘s Ted Genoways over what’s killing literary fiction. (Writers? Editors? M.F.A.s? How about late capitalism? Or the term “literary fiction?” Or the surfeit of articles about its demise?)
Congratulations to the five young writers named to the inaugural class of the National Student Poets Program. Louisa Banchoff (17), Miles Hewitt (17), Claire Lee (16), Natalie Richardson (17) and Lylia Younes (17) were appointed by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and they will serve as “literary ambassadors” for the next year.
In Born to Run, author Christopher McDougall talks about the legendary accomplishments of ultrarunner Micah Tue, aka Caballo Blanco, or “the wandering White Horse of Mexico’s Copper Canyons.” Last month, Tue disappeared after embarking on a 12-mile run in Gila National Forest. Distraught, worried, and curious, McDougall set off on a hunt to track him down.
If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” As Herrick writes, “Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.
New this week: Zero K by Don DeLillo; Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet; Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo; The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan; Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett; and Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens (who we interviewed). For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
David Bowie hasn’t performed live in seven years, but he has a good excuse — he’s been reading. His top 100 books are part of the “David Bowie Is” traveling exhibition (currently in Toronto.) The list reveals that he’s a big fan of American lit, including Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, Saul Bellow’s Herzog, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and more. He’s also an amateur rock historian, naming Charlie Gillete’s The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll and Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom among others. When can we sign up for the class, Professor Bowie?