It’s hard to write when the internet beckons. So has said Dani Shapiro and our own Emily St. John Mandel. Colson Whitehead doesn’t necessarily agree, however. Ditto for our own Kevin Hartnett. Now the folks at Electric Literature have thrown in their two cents.
Imagine a reality television show that pits up-and-coming writers against each other in a series of challenges designed to test their skills and endurance. When the smoke clears, and the bourbon’s gone, one talented writer will be reborn into gritty glory; only one writer will become America’s Next Top Writer!
The Critterati pets-in-literary-garb contest ends at midnight tonight! You can view a gallery of the submissions as they appear, and some of them are phenomenal. I especially like Humbert Humbert. I don’t know how these people got their animals to cooperate (drugs, probably). Big Ed and Nadine, aged six months, made it quite clear that under no circumstances would they be dressed up as Lata and Kabir from A Suitable Boy (what am I supposed to do with this tiny cardboard cricket bat now?) Henry and June was also a non-starter, but that might have been unkind to do to siblings, anyway. No one wants to see his sister chew up a garter belt. Evidently I’m not the only one to encounter massive opposition.
Colm Tóibín’s new book on Elizabeth Bishop is unusually hard to categorize. Part “primer,” part “personal reflection,” in Jonathan Farmer’s words, it moves back and forth between analysis and lyricism, alternating passages of beauty with nuts-and-bolts guides to Bishop’s poems. In Slate, Farmer tries to nail it down. You could also read our own Michael Bourne’s review of Tóibín’s The Master.
Flip through the blurbs on a recently published novel and you’re likely to come across a ton of stock phrases. Gary Shteyngart parodied this repetition — as well as other facets of the blurb-industrial complex — in a bit of improv last year. At The Morning News, Christine Gosnay writes about a poem that gave her a genuinely new reaction: the sense that she was “more than one person.”
During its ongoing contract talks with the publisher, Amazon has been displaying that Hachette’s books ship in “up to 3-5 weeks.” James Patterson, one of their biggest authors, has declared on Facebook that “there is a war going on between Amazon and book publishers.” The Washington Post has more on the backstory of Amazon’s strategy, while the New York Times blog details how Patterson and other authors are fighting back.