McPherson & Co. typically does print runs of just 2,000 books. With the tiny press about to put out Jaimy Gordon’s National Book Award-nominated Lord of Misrule, Barnes & Noble alone wants 2,000, and the question is how many to print.
“For a novelist, writing letters is writing that is not writing,” Ed Park says of P.G. Wodehouse’s collected correspondence, A Life in Letters. The Year in Reading alum goes on to note that “a collection of letters is the unconscious narrative the author generates over the years.”
Freedom the program might not actually be so freeing: “It has been argued that a chronic fever of distraction and fascination arrives on waves of Wi-Fi to stunt our attention spans, encouraging writers to paddle about, tweeting and liking, instead of striking out for deeper waters…” But maybe writers need distraction, after all. (Then again: a detox might do you good.)
What’s the deal with all the fake birds animated into fantasy and sci-fi films these days? According to Brian Thill, these digital flocks “aren’t just there to make the unreal scenes feel a bit more real” but are rather signifiers of “our oldest and most common metaphor for freedom.” What to make of their ability to evade disaster or succumb to it, however, is another story entirely.
“An appeal for the revival of the negative book review, then, is a remonstration against forced and foppish praise, where everything is good and so nothing at all is good.” In The Baffler, Rafia Zakaria writes in praise of negative book reviews and decries the “enfeebling of literary criticism.” From our archives: our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about bad book reviews.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, Americans are reading fewer books than they were back in 2014. A whopping twenty-eight percent of those surveyed reported not having finished even a single book in the past year, though the average number of books read per person last year remained at fourteen. For a little more in moderation lit, here’s an essay from The Millions on reading fewer books.