Mark McGurl author of the book that got everyone talking about MFA programs, The Program Era, mounts a spirited defense against Elif Batuman’s much discussed review of the book. Among his ripostes: “One can be all for the deflation of liberal pieties without being a gleeful ignoramus about it, as though literary journalism needs its own Ann Coulter.” Zing!
What if Petrarch had blurbed The Divine Comedy, or Shakespeare, “author of Tony Award-winning sensation Hamlet,” had reviewed Don Quixote? Tom Rachman imagines these blurbs and more for The Rumpus, and his piece pairs well with our brief history of the blurb.
Joan Didion and NPR uber-interviewer Terry Gross will be honored at the National Book Awards ceremony in November. Dideon won a National Book Award in 2005 for her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking.The National Library of Scotland flooded yesterday thanks to a faulty sprinkler system. It was a close call: “Some modern books and manuscripts suffered ‘surface’ water damage, but all of the ‘important, iconic’ books were saved.”Oops! A church in England sold some rare tomes for modest though still substantial sum to a book dealer, only to find, too late, that they are worth much, much more.
Has a cookbook ever changed your life? Here is Christine Baumgarthuber for The New Inquiry on early cookbooks and the lifestyle revolution that they sparked. Further your culinary exploits with Stephanie Bernhard’s essay for The Millions on cooking with Ernest Hemingway.
As if the guy needs any additional distractions to keep him from writing the seventh (or eighth!) books in his Song of Ice and Fire series, George R. R. Martin recently decided to join Twitter. If he ends book six with ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, then I presume you’ll know why.
According to some new research conducted by ebook retailer Kobo, the digital reading revolution (if it still exists) is being powered by prolific readers who are primarily female and older than forty-five. The study asserts that women make up almost seventy-five percent of “active” e-readers, defined as those who spend more than thirty minutes per day reading. What does all of this mean? Who knows, but keep reading.
Jonathan Franzen knows a lot about birds. The novelist competed on Jeopardy’s “Power Players Week” alongside Chuck Todd and S.E. Cupp as part of a variation on the Celebrity Jeopardy theme. Franzen flubbed a few questions about Shakespeare which, ironically, served to help dispel some of the “old curmudgeon” reputation that has followed him for years. This piece from The Millions on the case for non-Ikea writing in the Age of Franzen might interest you.
Authors are known to mine material from their personal relationships for their writing, but John Updike found inspiration from his interviews. After journalist William Ecenbarger wrote a profile of Updike in 1983, he found himself the subject of an Updike short story. Pair with: Our review of Updike’s Collected Stories.