You may have heard (via this site or elsewhere) that Harold Bloom has a new book out. In the Times Sunday Book Review, Cynthia Ozick gives her take, identifying the critic’s use of the phrase “without precedent” as key to understanding his theory. You could also read Matt Hanson on Bloom’s classic The Anatomy of Influence.
In 1847, Charles Dickens founded a house for homeless women in the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood of London. After setting up the center’s amenities, he publicized the house using leaflets and, upon hearing that London society was shocked that the center had a piano, spread a rumor that the center boasted a piano for every resident. At The Guardian, a look at a letter Dickens wrote to the matron of the house, to be sold at Christie’s in May. (h/t The Paris Review)
One of the struggles of being a writer is that everyone else is trying to turn your life into a story. Rebecca Makkai comments on well-intentioned friends who suggest story ideas at Ploughshares. Read a piece of her story (or screenplay) below:
“WRITER: So I was like, ‘Excuse me, are you with the Secret Service?’ and she’s like—
NEIGHBOR’S BOYFRIEND: Wait, wait, have you written this down? Aren’t you a writer? This would make a great story!”
Over at The Paris Review, Hannah Tennant-Moore defends the merits of disturbing literature. We are fascinated with the disturbing, because, as Tennant-Moore asserts, “wonder, disgust: both feelings are true.” Here’s a bonus piece on A.M. Homes‘ darkly comic May We Be Forgiven and on comforting the disturbed — or is it disturbing the comforted?
Speaking of festivals, recaps of last weekend’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books are up at Jacket Copy. Rafael Yglesias took home the top fiction prize for his novel, A Happy Marriage.