Glen Duncan, author of the genre novel The Last Werewolf, opened his New York Times review of Colson Whitehead‘s Zone One with this controversial line: “A literary novelist writing a genre novel is like an intellectual dating a porn star”. Understandably, this led to some uproar. Now he’s doubling down on his stance.
“How can we represent four hundred years of American literary history in a way that doesn’t reinforce the unfortunate hierarchies of those four hundred years?” Year in Reading alum Rebecca Makkai writes for Electric Literature about the opening of the new American Writers Museum in Chicago and what it means to curate an historical canon of letters. See also: our interview with Makkai from a couple of years back.
“i need more sprawling post-modern novels NOW!” is the plea at Ask MetaFilter.Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library has thousands of images from their collection online. It’s just like being in the dusty stacks.I’ve been enjoying emdashes lately. It’s a blog about my favorite magazine.
In the beginning was the word, and the word was plagiarized, and this regular old plagiarism was bad. But then Jonah Lehrer taught us about self-plagiarism, and that was bad, too, but somehow less so. And now Jane Goodall is teaching us about Wikipedia plagiarism, which seems bad as well, and you know what? It’s hard to grade these things anymore. What’s next? David Bowie cribbing lines from T.S. Eliot?
“I’m not a journalist, and I don’t pretend to be one, and most of the pieces in there were assigned to me by Harper’s, with these sort of maddening instructions of, you know, just go to a certain spot and kind of, you know, turn 350 degrees a few times and tell us what you see.” Tom Scocca posts a five-part transcript of a phone interview he did with David Foster Wallace in February 1998. (Thanks, Nick.)
If I had been near enough to a computer and had enough time to blog over the last month, I probably would have talked about Nicholson Baker’s new book, Checkpoint. I haven’t read it, so I can only comment on the reactions that I have seen to the book. Most have been negative. The book is about two friends who are sitting in a hotel room having a conversation. One character wants to assassinate President George W. Bush, the other is trying to talk him out of it. The subject matter alone seems to come from a desire to create controversy, and though Baker and his publisher have gone out of their way to condemn violence, Baker has said that he was motivated by his own personal anger to write the book. If you ask me, controversial subject matter + short book (115 pages in this case) + rush to press = literary publicity stunt, and many, including the New York Times agree.Readers of fiction looking for a weekly dose and writers of fiction looking for an audience should check out Weekly Reader, a little website that delivers a story to your inbox every week.Poaching two great links from Arts & Letters Daily: Jonathan Yardley loves Hunter S. Thompson’s new collection of pieces from ESPN.com’s page 2, Hey Rube; and Tibor Fischer discusses the current slate of Booker hopefuls.