The London Review of Books sought out Will Self to help create “a digital literary work that pushed the boundaries of the literary essay well beyond its traditional form.” The effort, they hoped, would “loosen and enhance the structure of the essay, changing the way the reader interacts with the text.” Well, consider that a success. Behold, “Kafka’s Wound” in all its multimedia glory. [Bonus: Millions readers in the UK can catch Will Self’s discussion of the digital essay on September 6th.]
Several recent novels -- among them Dave Eggers’s The Circle and Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge --tackle the effects of social media on our world. The latest, Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen, may be the best of the bunch, writes Andrew Hulktrans. At Bookforum, he explains why Cohen's depiction of an app-saturated world is unparalleled. You could also read Jonathan Frederick Post on Cohen’s novel Witz.
“Contemporary criticism is positively crowded with first-person pronouns, micro-doses of memoir, brief hits of biography. Critics don’t simply wrestle with their assigned cultural object; they wrestle with themselves, as well. Recent examples suggest a spectrum, from reviews that harmlessly kick off with a personal anecdote, to hybrid pieces that blend literary criticism and longform memoir.” On why critics get personal in their essays.
Did our interview with Hilary Mantel yesterday pique your interest in her latest book? The Times has an excerpt you can read. Elsewhere, Damian Barr (who conducted the interview) pens a response to Lord Bell, who recently suggested that Scotland Yard should investigate Mantel for criminal intent.