“The internet has altered our lives in ways television never did or could, but mainstream literary novelists – by which I mean writers who specialize in realistic, character-based narratives – have mostly shied away from writing about this, perhaps hoping that, like TV, it could be safely ignored.” Laura Miller examines how contemporary novels are coming to terms with the internet.
Dwight Garner, writing in the current issue of The New York Times Magazine, laments that so many high-end American novelists seem to be working on “the nine-year plan,” delivering a new novel roughly once a decade. He cites Jeffrey Eugenides, who will be out soon with The Marriage Plot, his third novel in 18 years, along with such slow cookers as Jonathan Franzen, Donna Tartt and Michael Chabon. One name Garner neglected to mention is the Pulitzer Prize-winner William Kennedy, who will be out next month with Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, the eighth installment in his Albany cycle and his first novel since Roscoe appeared nine years and nine months ago. Look for our review of it here next month.
“That no-way-out is really the difference between boys and girls in working-class culture, because a working-class boy could run, or could when I was growing up.” Guernica interviews Dorothy Allison about literature as glory; survival, opportunity, and gender; and working-class heroes vs. heroines. For your reading consideration: Bill Morris‘s essay on the riches of “white trash” literature.
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.)
With the help of the folks at Ploughshares and Medium, Year in Reading alumna Megan Mayhew Bergman is publishing a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure literary short story. To participate, read the first chapter (as well as the introduction) online, then tweet Bergman to tell her where the story should go from there.