Would you rather have a long literary career, or write a brilliant, successful one-off? Robert McCrum considers the literary career arc.
Let’s take a moment to be jealous of other countries, shall we? In Iceland, “one in ten [residents] will publish something in their lifetime.” Norway’s government “buys 1,000 copies of every book a Norwegian author publishes. It provides a $19,000 annual subsidy to every author.” In Argentina, “the city of Buenos Aires now gives pensions to published writers.”
USA Today is running an excerpt of Denis Johnson’s much buzzed about new doorstop Tree of Smoke.The New Yorker Food Issue, to my mind the highlight of the New Yorker publishing year, has arrived. Somehow I look forward to this one as much as I did the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue when I was twelve. Much of the good stuff isn’t online, but you can get a taste of the food writing on offer with a series of short essays under theme “Family Dinner.” Aleksandar Hemon, Gary Shteyngart, Nell Freudenberger, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, David Sedaris, Anthony Lane, and Donald Antrim are on the menu.
This weekend we posted our 1000th Tumbl. Since we jumped into the Tumblverse last autumn, we’ve been pretty vocal about how happy we are to be there, posting other curiosities, #LitBeat reports, the occasional cute puppy astronaut picture, and other digital ephemera. Of course, we wouldn’t love Tumblr half so hard if we were there on our lonesome; that’s why we made that handy guide to the other lit-loving Tumblogs that make our day on the regular.
“I didn’t really understand what reading was for. If I wanted a story, the thing to do was to get my grandmother to read it to me. Then listening to her voice, her story-reading voice which always sounded a little incredulous, marvelling, yet full of faith, bravely insistent, and watching her face, its meaningful and utterly familiar expressions—lifted eyebrows, ominously sinking chin, brisk little nods of agreement when, as sometimes happened, a character said something sensible—then I would feel the story grow into life and exist by itself, so that it hardly seemed to me that she was reading it out of a book at all; it was something she had created herself, out of thin air… But one summer I had the whooping-cough, and afterwards I could not go swimming or jump off the beams in the barn or boss my little brother, because by that time he had the whooping-cough himself. My grandmother was off somewhere, visiting other cousins. So I swung on my swing until I got dizzy, and then for no reason in particular I took the Child’s History out of the bookcase in the front room, and sat down on the floor and started to read.” Alice Munro writes about A Child’s History of England, the first book she ever read.