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!
In an interview with Vice, Joy Williams explains that writing gives her “no happiness”. Pair with an interview with our own Hannah Gersen, who “would have stopped [writing] a long time ago” if she didn’t love it. You could also read Nick Ripatrazone’s recent article on fifty reasons to read Williams.
We thoroughly enjoyed the latest episode of David Naimon‘s Between the Covers podcast featuring Whiting-Award winner Tyehimba Jess. The conversation centers on Jess’s latest book, Olio, a tour de force hybrid-genre exploration of African-American performers from the period just before the American Civil War through World War I. (Previously: We recommended Jess’s Leadbelly as perfect reading for train travel.)
Have some fun with this New York specific feature highlighted by Atlas Obscura. The New York Society Library is private member-based library and it has some pretty famous members, going all the way back to Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Due to the library’s excellent record keeping you can trace these famous members reading histories. “In the early 20th century, Library staff switched from big, blank ledger books to index cards for record keeping. Henceforth they archived cards only for “prominent” members, discarding the rest. The gap is major, but the surviving cards offer a lifetime of book recommendations.”