A few weeks ago, Benjamin Hale wrote an article for us about the trivialities and happenstance associated with publishing prizes. His point was that legacy was more important than short-lived fame. In a way, his piece is nicely supplemented by Tom Bissell’s essay on the luck and chance necessary to attain literary success.
Evidently, Alain de Botton has recovered from the unfavorable New York Times review of his latest book, The Pleasures of Sorrow and Work, for which he excoriated reviewer Caleb Crain, claiming that Crain “killed [his] book in the United States.” De Botton was just named Heathrow Airport’s first writer-in-residence. During his week tenure at a desk in Terminal 5, he will record his observations in “real time,” with his typing appearing on a screen behind him. Afterward, the entries will be collected and published as a book, A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary.
Remember that preview for Death to Smoochy, where the voice-over proclaimed, “From the twisted mind of Danny DeVito?” Me neither. But if twisty minds are your thing, you should check out this page from Gay Talese‘s outline for the classic “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” written on a shirt cardboard. (Remember shirt cardboards? Yeah… Me neither.)
A couple dozen leading literary magazine editors recently found themselves debating “submission fees” in a long, heated, and candid listserv discussion. The complete transcript – names have been changed to protect the innocent – is alternately depressing and heartening. It’s a must-read for anyone who publishes in little magazines, or plans to, or is just curious about how editors see themselves. (Update (11/12): Apparently, the literary magazine that published this content on its website had not been authorized to do so by the Council of Literary Magazines and Small Presses, which administers the listserv. The content has since been taken down; we’ve de-activated the link to reflect that.)
“You want to know who I am? If I wanted to have anything written on my tombstone, I would have, ‘Ask my children or ask my students.’ I actually never thought of it quite that way. That wouldn’t be a bad epitaph.” An excerpt from Studs Terkel‘s oral history of death, Will The Circle Be Unbroken?: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith, is now available online.