The annual Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference wrapped up earlier this week, but, thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can relive the magic: Transcripts and videos of notable speeches are available on the conference’s website, including the concluding talk on the future of the novel by China Mieville.
“Then there’s the no-one-reads-anymore hysteria, the lack of supportive careers for apprenticing writers, the MFA deathtrap, etc. It feels self-indulgent as a critic to say, ‘But the whole critical structure has broken down, let’s talk about that.’ The critic only comes into play when the books are actually produced and put onto the market, meaning their jobs are tied into this whole decaying, rotting mess of an industry.” Jessa Crispin writes on the self-hating book critic.
You may not have known that Thomas Jefferson – author of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. President, founder of the University of Virginia – also found time to amass the largest contemporary collection of books in North America. For sixteen years, The Library of Congress has been trying to track down copies of the final 250 listed in Jefferson’s collection.
“I remember LeVar shooting at a zoo and an elephant had a cold and kept blowing snot all over him. He never lost his cool. ‘OK, let’s try it again.’” OMG guys, Mental Floss has an oral history of Reading Rainbow! And let us also never forget the reminiscences of our founder C. Max Magee‘s mom upon learning the show would be cancelled.
“Presenting female writers as sexualized and frivolous diminishes their intellectual credentials, tarnishes their work as slight, not to be taken seriously.” The cover of the U.K. edition of The Letters of Sylvia Plath, a new collection of unpublished correspondence by the late author, features her in a bikini because, sexism. Pair with “Sexy Backs and Headless Women: A Book Cover Manifesto.”
In the latest entry in By Heart, the Atlantic series we’ve written about a few times, Ben Marcus (who recently came out with a new book) reflects on the true meaning of the word “Kafkaesque.” Marcus interprets Kafka’s “A Message from the Emperor” as a parable about the difficulty of real human connection. (Related: there’s now a Kafka video game.)
The short shelf of books written by Jane Austen has been recently supplemented by many imaginative efforts–Jane Austen as an amateur detective, and several works depicting Austen characters (or Jane herself) as a vampire, a zombie or some other Gothic monster. So what’s next? Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James is Pride and Prejudice continued.