With Naipaul and Theroux making nice, the Times asks Christopher Hitchens what makes for a good literary feud these days: “A really first-rate bust-up must transcend the limits of ‘an entertaining side show’ and involve playing for high moral and intellectual stakes”
Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; “The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to ‘fully narrate her own autobiography,’ as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world.” In the New Yorker
“The city has the beckoning power of a black hole or the Italian countryside or a castle. There is no way to explain our wiring to someone whose fairytale has always ended somewhere like Florida.” Aisha Sabatini Sloan on calling Detroit home, over at The Offing. Also check out Bill Morris’s Millions piece on movies set in the city.
“You should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children,” Ruth Graham wrote in Slate last week, stirring the proverbial pot of new adult fans of Young Adult bestsellers like The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park. A host of YA-defenders rose up to shout her down. “You should never be embarrassed by any book you enjoy,” Hillary Kelly responds in The New Republic, unrealistically (we’re embarrassed by quite a lot). For the Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg cites examples of worthwhile, complex YA fiction we can certainly support: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Pushcart War, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Westing Game.
Amazon, which recently entered the world of original broadcast content, has subverted television’s traditional “pilot season” by forgoing a staggered release schedule in favor of plunking all fourteen of its pilots onto its website at once. The idea is for audiences to watch the eight comedies and six animated shows for free, and then help the company decide which options are the most promising for long term development. Just a tip: Alpha House features appearances from John Goodman and Bill Murray.