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.
Year in Reading alum Jacqueline Woodson has been named the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Gene Luen Yang was the previous ambassador. The program is sponsored by the Library of Congress and the official ceremony is January 9th. Congratulations Jacqueline!
“I am lately returned from a pilgrimage, bearing bloodied knees and a holy relic; my destination was a place of love and sacrifice that’s lived long in my heart. No Lourdes for me, though: I went to the Reichenbach Falls.” Sarah Perry makes a pilgrimage to the death place of Sherlock Holmes and writes about it for the Guardian.
Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way “the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us.” Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against “relatability,” but it’s something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.
Here are a couple more pieces on Bill Keller’s departure as executive editor of The New York Times. An interview with Esquire conducted not long before his announcement: “Newspaper publishers have done more to kill newspapers than any innovative form of media.” And New York describes how Keller’s recent cranky columns about new vs. old media ticked off the newsroom.
Ever thought that writing a novel was like a video game you just couldn’t win? In the new video game The Novelist, players count pages not bodies as they try to help the protagonist balance writing with his family life. “There’s no winning or losing,” designer Kent Hudson said. “[M]y hope is that as you’re presented with the same fundamental question … over the course of the game, that you start to learn about your own values.”