Our own Bill Morris has long worn his writer’s hat, but he recently revealed to us his artistic side. Now his Flannery O’Connor portrait has fetched an impressive price in the recent One Story magazine charity auction. Is art world stardom next?
A new Pew Research Center survey finds that the share of Americans who have read a book in the last 12 months – 73% – has remained largely unchanged since 2012. And when people do reach for a book, it is much more likely to be a traditional print book than a digital product. See also our essay on the persistence of physical books and, of course, The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, edited by our own C. Max Magee.
“He was a glutton for books who treated each text as a plate he was required to clean.” Author and critic William Gass died this week at 93, reports The Washington Post. The recipient of three National Book Critics Circle awards for criticism and four Pushcart prizes, Gass was awarded the PEN/Nabakov Award for lifetime achievement in 2000. See our reviews of Middle C, a novel that took Gass almost 20 years to finish, and his most recent essay collection Life Sentences, which amply demonstrated his background as “a former philosophy professor, but more appropriately a philosopher of the word and an esthete.” We were also lucky enough to have him pen a Year in Reading entry for us back in 2009: “I miss the leisure that let me read just for fun, not to critique, or pronounce, or even to put on a list, but simply to savor,” Gass lamented. Nonetheless, he continued,“I do, from time to time, pick up old friends who never disappoint but will promise me a page or two of pleasure between art and ordinary life.”
In their latest Trend Watch, Merriam-Webster announced they've been seeing more searches for "Kafkaesque," a spike they attribute to British publishers writing about Booker winner Han Kang. Since the word is so overused, it's worthwhile to ask: just what does it actually mean now, anyway? Allison Flood tries to pin it down at The Guardian.
“For me, authenticity of setting is a kind of sine qua non for the feeling that a scene has been correctly done. I become unnerved if I haven’t got a ground plan, don’t know where my characters are. It’s a matter of personal psychology, I guess. I’ve always collected notes on settings. Most, of course, I’ll never use.” At the Tin House blog, Tim Horvath talks shop with Norman Rush.
“What Belongs to You is a haunting, gorgeous, and fierce debut, capturing desire in every sentence—holding the space of what we long for and what can never truly be ours.” The Rumpus reviews Garth Greenwell’s debut novel. To compare and contrast, pair with our review of the novel.