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Literary fame is a knotty thing. It’s hard to predict exactly who will be known for centuries, and why. William Wordsworth, for example, owes at least part of his fame to the Lake District, which started to use him in their tourist campaigns not long after his death. In The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman takes a look at H.J. Jackson’s Those Who Write for Immortality. Related: Gina Fattore’s recent essay on fame and money.
“Like all great literature, [David Foster Wallace’s] books do many things at once. Litchat, however, is singleminded.” Laura Miller discusses “the perils of litchat” at The New Yorker and how it has affected the legacy of David Foster Wallace. For less litchat, read our review of The David Foster Wallace Reader.
Hollywood is romanticizing the Beat Generation in its recent adaptations of On the Road (trailer here), Big Sur (trailer here), and Kill Your Darlings, and you can blame Millennials. "In casting the authors as eternally and fundamentally adolescent, the recent revival tones down their behavior—both revolutionary and repulsive—as a sort of passing teenage phase," Jordan Larson argues for The Atlantic.
“I love you, in its formal semantic meaning, is at once fetishized and sacrosanct; our familiarity with it as a speech-act is equally uneasy. Type ‘using I love you’ into Google and the first autocomplete result is ‘too much’; the second is ‘as a weapon.’” Google’s recently unveiled Smart Reply feature is saying “I love you” too much. Or is it just the right amount?
Things you can learn from this interview with Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell: there is a genre called “Scandi-noir;” the time Mankell spent as a sailor acted as “a sort of university;” and the fact that Mankell has been married four times proves that he is an optimist.
What does Jonathan Franzen think of the cover for Freedom? What about Charlotte Strick, the book's designer? Or the photographers that took photos of those trees, of that blue warbler? Talking Covers has collected their thoughts, and plays host to other cover-related conversations besides. Check out this one The Flame Alphabet.