“We live in the age of opinion — offered instantly, effusively and in increasingly strident tones. Much of it goes by the name of criticism, and in the most superficial sense this is accurate.” The New York Times approached six accomplished critics, Stephen Burns, Katie Roiphe, Pankaj Mishra, Adam Kirsch, Sam Anderson, and Elif Batuman to explain, in the spirit of Alfred Kazin, “what it is they do, why they do it and why it matters.”
“The clash of genre values is fundamental to the novelistic experience. That’s how we ought to be thinking about our books. Instead of asking whether a comic book could be “as valuable” as King Lear, we ought to ask how the values of tragedy and romance might collide.” Joshua Rothman writes about the coming “collapse of the genre system” and our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s National Book Award short-listed Station Eleven for The New Yorker.
Electric Literature’s posted a story by Jesmyn Ward, author of the reigning National Book Award-winning novel Salvage the Bones, as part of their ongoing Recommended Reading series. It’s worth checking out. Likewise, I recommend getting your hands on the latest issue of Oxford American so you can check out Ward’s inaugural “Native Daughter” column.
We submit that beginning a love story with the lede “I never intended to get a tortoise” pretty much guarantees that the reader will read to the end. In Sunday’s New York Times Style section, Caroline Leavitt puts our theory to the test. (If you like her essay, you might want to pre-order her new novel.)