Kirk Curnutt takes readers on a tour of of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s oft-neglected commercial short fiction. Fitzgerald, after all, “produced 160 short stories [in his life],” writes Curnutt, “earning a total of $241,453 off the genre — more than $3 million in today’s dollars.” Yet the author didn’t think highly of the work, and even referred to himself as an “old whore” because he wouldn’t quit.
Ben Lerner, whose 10:04 has been reviewed in Bookforum and the New York Times, made an appearance on The New Directions blog to recommend four books of poetry that have at one point or another graced his nightstand. (No word on how he winnows down his list of books to be stacked on said nightstand, but our own Sonya Chung can offer advice.)
“People used to wish that life could be as it is in books—that it could have the beauty, drama, and shapeliness that writers gave it. Today, by contrast, we hope desperately that life is not really like our writers portray it; in other words, we hope that writers are not representative men and women, but unfit beings whose perceptions are filtered through their unhealth. It is necessary to hope this, because if life were as it appears in our literature it would be unlivable.” Adam Kirsch explores the downside of literary nostalgia.
“What traits make Austen special, and can they be measured with data? Can literary genius be graphed?” The New York Times tackles the question of why, 200 years after her death, Jane Austen is still so popular. (One finding: the author“used intensifying words — like very, much, so — at a higher rate than other writers.”) See also: our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.