Caleb Crain has strong reservations about the New York Public Library’s proposed $350 million remodel, or, in his view, the library’s shift away from “its research mission.” To put his concerns bluntly, he asks, “What problem is the Central Library Plan (CLP) meant to solve?” He then vividly enumerates the problems with the proposal. For those of you wondering what can be accomplished with an essay, there’s this: Mr. Crain’s got him landed on one of the project’s advisory panels as a result.
According to this week’s New York Magazine Approval Matrix, our own Kevin Hartnett’s article from two weeks ago is a highbrow yet despicable piece of writing. What makes it so despicable, you ask? Apparently they blame Professor Tom Ferraro’s adulatory passage on the The Godfather.
“The Books of Magic makes The Lord of the Rings, The Avengers, Harry Potter, and even Twilight all look like entries in the same broad genre of tween-superhero fantasy, in which someone insignificant gets mighty powers, fights the forces of evil, and ultimately triumphs. …The pop culture landscape starts to look like an endless row of Tim Hunters, the same successful formula applied again and again.” From The Atlantic, a look at how Neil Gaiman‘s The Books of Magic prefigured the runaway success of Harry Potter and the modern YA fantasy-adventure craze.
“Her exchanges with Americans in small towns and rural communities are inspiring an appreciation of poetry and history – and remind us that poetry has value for all of our lives.” The Library of Congress appointed Tracy K. Smith to a second term as the 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2018-2019. For her second term, Smith edited an anthology called American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time, which will be published by Graywolf Press in association with the Library of Congress. Pair with: our review of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light.
A while back, I linked to a contentious letter between Saul Bellow and Jack Ludwig, written not long after Bellow found out Ludwig was sleeping with his wife. Now, here’s a (somewhat) less angry piece of correspondence, sent from Philip Larkin to Barbara Pym. Sample quote: “Has anyone ever done any work on why memories are always unhappy?”
“His life’s work, and his stunning prose, teaches us to better understand political influence, American democracy, and the true power of biography.” The National Book Foundation just announced Robert Caro as this year’s recipient of the National Book Awards lifetime achievement medal. Definitely pair with this piece by our own Michael Bourne on Caro’s epic literary ambitions.
Penny Perkins interviews Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty author Ramona Ausubel at The Rumpus. “I realized that this book I was writing about money had to be about race and it had to be about class and it had to be about privilege, and which of those things we are able to see and which we are blind to.” Pair with Ausubel’s writing at The Millions.