Robert Birnbaum sits down with Pulitzer-winning novelist Geraldine Brooks to discuss Australian literature, Harvard’s (neglected) charter to educate American Indians, and those residents of Martha’s Vineyard who say no to Chardonnay.
“There are dangers for an artist in any academic environment,” says former Poetry editor Christian Wiman, who now teaches at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. “Academia rewards people who know their own minds and have developed an ironclad confidence in speaking them. That kind of assurance is death for an artist.”
Ever since the advent of modern neuroscience, the language of the brain scientist has entered our common vocabulary. Words and phrases like “synapse,” “chemical imbalance” and “hardwired” point to its relevance in contemporary culture. At Page-Turner, a look at how cognitive language and our notion of attention affects the way we think about fiction and music, with particular reference to On Beauty by Zadie Smith and Orfeo by Richard Powers.
Brett Ortler, a blogger at Bark, chronicles his effort to figure out why indie publisher, BlazeVOX, wants to charge him $250 to publish his book of poems. Follow-up posts reveal, first, that BlazeVOX has rescinded the pay-to-play scheme, and, second, that it now plans to go out of business by the end of the year.
“If you ask around, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a really bad novel easily enough. I mean a novel by someone who has spent isolated years writing a book they are convinced is a great work of literature. And when you’re reading it you’ll know it’s bad, and you’ll know what bad truly is.” What makes bad writing so bad? Toby Litt at The Guardian investigates.
Millions readers in New York: Please join us tonight at McNally Jackson bookstore in Manhattan to celebrate the release of The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books. I’ll be joined by my co-editor Jeff Martin, as well as Reif Larsen and some of the book’s other contributors, including Millions staff writers Garth Risk Hallberg and Emily St. John Mandel. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!
“I didn’t know who William Kelley was when I found that book but, like millions of Americans, I knew a term he is credited with first committing to print. ‘If You’re Woke, You Dig It’ read the headline of a 1962 Op-Ed that Kelley published in the New York Times, in which he pointed out that much of what passed for “beatnik” slang (“dig,” “chick,” “cool”) originated with African-Americans.” Are you familiar with William Kelley? Let Kathryn Schulz be your guide on this historical literary adventure as she discovers an immensely influential writer whom most of us have never heard mentioned.