Catching you up to speed with two recent literary controversies: 1) Poets & Writers‘ MFA rankings kerfuffle gets a climactic and eloquent summary from The Missouri Review‘s Michael Nye. 2) In response to her Salon article, “How the National Book Awards made themselves irrelevant,” Victor LaValle has some fightin’ words for Laura Miller.
“Like reading, love works in roughly the same way every time, but the details of any given case are irreducibly particular, and it’s in the details that everything happens.” Lidija Haas on Elif Batuman’s debut novel, The Idiot. (You could also read our review by Virginia Marshall.)
Recommended Reading: An excerpt from comedian and Year In Reading alum Rob Delaney’s memoir, Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. “I haven’t been to war, so I can’t comment on what that experience is like, but people who go through rehab or a halfway house walk a tough road together and not all of them make it.”
Adorable pictures of baby hippos aside, it’s a common misconception that animals are “smiling” at you out of sincere happiness. Probably you’re projecting that onto them, writes Lee Dye in a piece from 2010. For more on the perils of assigning human qualities to other animal species, I highly recommend checking out Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy’s When Elephants Weep.
“Russian author Leo Tolstoy’s entire body of work – all 90 volumes – along with comprehensive biographical materials has been posted online and will be available for free, a descendant said.”
Over at Guernica, Liza St. James interviews Adam Z. Levy and Ashley Nelson Levy, the founders of the independent press Transit Books. As they put it, “We were noticing this kind of partition between two types of readerships: those who read domestic literature and those who read translation. […] We were interested in the separation of those literary spheres, and began to wonder how to bridge the gap between them.”