“Without any clear and agreed upon sense for what to be aiming at in a life, people may experience the paralyzing type of indecision depicted by T.S. Eliot in his famously vacillating character Prufrock; or they may feel, like the characters in a Samuel Beckett play, as though they are continuously waiting for something to become clear… or they may feel the kind of “stomach level sadness” that David Foster Wallace described…” Sean D. Kelly navigates past nihilism for the New York Times.
“I can tell you that, as of today, I don’t feel any different about Mr Whitehead, or his review, or my response.” Richard Ford doubles down on his reaction to a negative 2001 review by fellow novelist Colson Whitehead. (Said response, in case you missed it, was to tell Whitehead ‘you’re a kid, you should grow up,’ and spit in his face.) We hope Whitehead is laughing at home with his Pulitzer Prize, recently awarded for last year’s literary juggernaut The Underground Railroad. And as our own Emily St. John Mandel reminds us, there are far more gracious ways to respond to criticism.
Book Cover Roundup, Item #1: Each year The Millions publishes a high stakes face-off between the UK and US covers of books featured in The Morning News’ Tournament of Books (2014, 2013, 2012). Now, for Sarah Hemfrey’s research on book covers in the publishing industry, it’s your turn to be the judge. Item #2: if Harry Potter is more your style, that whole series is getting new cover designs, too.
“’This Is Just To Say’ is magical because of this personal, endless quality to it,” writes Jezebel’s Kate Dries in her exploration of the poem’s prevalence among Twitter comedians. Meanwhile Andrew Epstein remarks in a supplementary blog post, “I guess this is just to say that the Jezebel piece reminded me that Kenneth Koch was remixing and spoofing [William Carlos] Williams almost 50 years before anyone ever dreamt of Twitter.”
For San Francisco readers: There’s a new show of huge, surreal paper mache animal sculptures up at The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (December 4-17th). These paper beasts, featured in the San Francisco Symphony’s performance of Camille Saint-Saens “Carnival of the Animals” and created by local artist Colette Crutcher and her students, will be auctioned off to benefit the MCCLA at a party open to the public on December 17th.
FSG just launched their new online literary periodical, Work in Progress. Check out their debut issue, where you’ll find Jeffrey Eugenides chatting about his latest book with Jonathan Galassi, fiction by Lydia Davis, summer book giveaways and photos from the FSG archives. Look for the clip from an FSG letter introducing Susan Sontag’s first book in 1963: “It is difficult, as you know, to create interest in new writers.”
For the past 17 years, the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award has celebrated “six women writers who demonstrate excellence and promise in the early stages of their careers.” This year’s winners are Melanie Diane (poetry), Apricot Irving (nonfiction), Fowzia Karimi (fiction), Namwali Serpell (fiction), Merritt Tierce (fiction), and JoAnn Wypijewski (nonfiction). They will accept their awards on September 22 in New York City.