Rebecca Davis O’Brien unearths a letter in which Malcolm Cowley tackles the timeless question, “Should I get an MFA?” Just as poignant as Cowley’s letter is novelist Helen DeWitt’s pointed dismissal of Cowley’s advice in the comments section.
Check out some of the good stuff floating around:A bookstore on a boat at The CS MonitorSimilarties between David Mitchell’s Number9Dream and Cloud Atlas at Conversational Reading.Tingle Alley discovers that Zadie Smith’s hubby Nick Laird may be getting preferential treatment in the book pages.Aelfred of Dunwoody Recalls a Viking Incursion at Wal-Mart, 848 AD. You can’t really beat this.
Have novels about love lost their gravitas as women’s liberation and divorce culture have taken over? Adelle Waldman doesn’t think so. In The New Yorker, she defends the timelessness of the marriage plot. “As long as marriage and love and relationships have high stakes for us emotionally, they have the potential to offer rich subject material for novelists, no matter how flimsy or comparatively uninteresting contemporary relationships seem on their surface.” Pair with: Our Jeffrey Eugenides essay on writing The Marriage Plot, which is referenced several times in Waldman’s essay.
New out this week is Gryphon, Charles Baxter’s new collection of stories. Joseph McElroy also has a new collection of stories out, Night Soul. The latest McSweeney’s (featuring that fragment from an abandoned novel by Michael Chabon) is now available, and new in paperback is Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America. Many more new books to look forward to, of course, in our massive preview published last week.
“Why is love rich beyond all other possible human experiences and a sweet burden to those seized in its grasp? Because we become what we love and yet remain ourselves.” The remarkable love letters of Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger are both touching and predictably philosophical. Here’s a jarring, surreal reimagining of three works of Arendt’s over at 3:AM Magazine.
Electric Literature—first established as a cross-platform digital publisher, but best known for its popular “Recommended Reading” tumblog—has just relaunched itself as a literary advocate built around a strong website and social channels. C0-founder Andy Hunter tells the Washington Post, “Posting a cool photo on social media gets a much greater response than text alone, even in our audience of book lovers. While at first that might seem at odds with literary content, we’ve always felt that changes in the way we communicate create opportunities to reach more people.”