“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.”
There is good news for those of us whose dreams of artistic superstardom don’t seem to be panning out — a job listing from McSweeney’s seeking failed artists for an associate position. “We would hate for you to be pretentious,” the listing states, “but if you don’t regularly call other people pretentious — this might not be the job for you.”
This week, the Ransom Center at UT-Austin opened up its archives of the works of J.M. Coetzee. Because the Nobel Prize winner is an alumnus, he says it’s “a privilege to have graduated from being a teaching assistant at The University of Texas to being one of the authors whose papers are conserved here.” (Fun fact: his starting salary was $2,300 a year.)
Husband and wife writing duo Matthew Seal and Julie Bruton-Seal will launch their new book, Make Your Own Aphrodisiacs, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The couple, who live in Britain, (and who are by no means spring chickens), are encouraging people to look at natural ways of boosting their libido and to remove some of the myths and taboos surrounding aphrodisiacs.