Sarah Fay, associate editor of The Paris Review, has a piece in The Atlantic on the digitization of book reviewing, framed beautifully by references to George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Confessions of a Book Reviewer.” She praises Bookslut, Nancy Pearl, Goodreads, and The Los Angeles Review of Books for their collective skills of recommendation, reviewing, and New Criticism. I’d add The Quarterly Conversation, The Rumpus, The New Inquiry, The Morning News (for their annual Tournament of Books feature), and of course, The Millions.
Fans of British comedic polymath and Apple fanboy Stephen Fry might be interested to know that the first season of Kingdom, Fry's recent three-season British television series is available on Hulu. (Seasons 2 and; 3 are available on DVD in the US, but Season 1, mystifyingly, is not.) The series follows the doings of empathetic, small town Norfolk solicitor Peter Kingdom (Fry) and his gently eccentric fellow residents of the seaside town of Market Shipborough (actually Wells-Next-the-Sea). It's soothing, cozy stuff.
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the "dispassionate first-person narrators" prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. "Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian."
Today in book-related graphics: The Arts Shelf has created an infographic measuring famous literature by word count, and The New York Times provides a handy, illustrated guide to any writers' retreat, complete with authors' cloisters and an "emergency idea generator."
"Her poems shimmer most when they reflect on the yearning to rebel against the constrained space granted to women’s voices in literature and life." On her 126th birthday, The Guardian argues that Edna St. Vincent Millay's poetry — not her reputation — should be remembered and celebrated. Pair with: an essay on being an uneasy, untamed women writer.
Up until 1999, Italian college students were required to write longform theses, which explains why Umberto Eco felt the need to write a guide to completing one. Eco being Eco, however, the guide went on to become a classic with many applications. At Page-Turner, Hua Hsu explains why the author’s writing manual is also a guide to life. You could also read Hillary Kelly on Eco’s Confessions of a Young Novelist.