“I am not at all sure—convinced, certain, persuaded—that creative-writing courses are a good idea unless they prevent people from writing sentences like this one, where adjectives—useful, helpful, intensely descriptive words—are stacked upon one another as Pelion used to be piled upon Ossa.” Alexander McCall Smith on the dangers of overwriting.
“These elements of scandal, by now familiar in the #MeToo era, claimed an unusual casualty on Friday: The Nobel Prize in Literature, the world’s most prestigious accolade for writing.” In the wake of a sex abuse scandal, The Swedish Academy announced it will postpone this year’s award until next year when they will name two winners. In the meantime, maybe we should all mull over the problem with prestigious prizes.
“I slumped into an empty corner opposite Say Goodbye, Cattullus and wept into my knees for a half hour.” Catherine Lacey writes for The Paris Review‘s “Revisited” series, “in which writers look back on a work of art they first encountered long ago.” Pair with our own Bill Morris‘s consideration of artists whose works channel writers.
Is “literary” fiction just a product of clever marketing? Elizabeth Edmondson thinks it is. At The Guardian, she argues that classically literary authors like Jane Austen had no idea they were writing Literature — posterity classified their work as such later on. Her essay dovetails nicely with our own Edan Lepucki’s argument that literature is a genre.
New this week: Academy Street by Mary Costello; The Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer; After the Tall Timber by Renata Adler; Recipes for a Beautiful Life by Rebecca Barry; A Slant of Light by Jeffrey Lent; The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea; All Involved by Ryan Gattis; Odysseus Abroad by Amit Chaudhuri; The Language of Paradise by Barbara Klein Moss; and Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes and I Refuse, two books by Per Petterson. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.