Imagine a reality television show that pits up-and-coming writers against each other in a series of challenges designed to test their skills and endurance. When the smoke clears, and the bourbon’s gone, one talented writer will be reborn into gritty glory; only one writer will become America’s Next Top Writer!
Over at the Oyster Review Alexandra Edwards takes a literary tour of Florida, guided by “a few writers who chart Florida’s strange vacillation between the modern and the primordial,” including the likes of Elizabeth Bishop, Zora Neale Hurston and Ernest Hemingway. Our own Nick Moran has also profiled the literature of the Sunshine State, though his take was a little more “Floridapocalyptic.”
Despair, debt, frustration, a decade in school rewarded with guaranteed joblessness. If this cocktail of woe sounds good to you, consider getting a Ph.D. in English, History, or any other humanities discipline. At the New York Times, yet another of the recent spate of articles explaining how utterly dismal the prospects of recent humanities Ph.D.s are.
“When it started almost 15 years ago, [Google Books] … seemed impossibly ambitious,” writes Scott Rosenberg. “An upstart tech company that had just tamed and organized the vast informational jungle of the web would now extend the reach of its search box into the offline world.” But these days, Google’s moonshot has turned into a “mundane reality.” How?
It’s a big week for new books. Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke is now out, as is Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy, Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge, and The Funny Man by John Warner, who recently appeared in these pages. Philip Roth’s American Trilogy is getting the Library of America treatment. (Capsule previews of all of the preceding titles are available here, incidentally). New in non-fiction is Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin. And out in paperback: none other than Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.