Though everyone is tired of the online critics are too nice/ do critics even matter debate cropping up everywhere as of late, Daniel Mendelsohn’s “Critic’s Manifesto” may be the best thing to come out of the conversation yet: a clear formulation of what it means to be a critic and why that matters.
Some corners of the literary world were confused last week when news hit about the passing of Beatles producer George Martin, forcing Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin to make this statement: “While it is strangely moving to realize that so many people around the world care so deeply about my life and death, I have to go with Mark Twain and insist that the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. It was Sir George Martin, of Beatles fame, who has passed away. Not me.”
“On the outside, she was immaculately poised, always elegantly dressed, with perfectly cut, silver hair; witty, brilliant company, properly opinionated, impatient with compromise or cant, what the book blurbs called ‘fiercely intelligent.’ But this came at a cost.” Jenny Diski‘s husband, the poet Ian Patterson, remembers his wife for The Guardian.
There’s a pedestrian bridge spanning Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis that features a John Ashbery poem written on its steel beams. This is a fabulous slideshow of photos showing the poem. Via been thinking.
“When the corrective to women’s exclusion from history is to find a few suitable individuals to pluck out of the messy rush of life and achievement, and hold up for admiration, we forget that many of women’s most important historical achievements…have been the product of collaboration, community, and collective action.” For Slate, Joanna Scutts writes about recent spate of historical books about rebellious, misbehaved women, and who is left out of those stories. From our archives: a list of vile women in fiction.
At the LA Times, Scott Esposito gives David Lipsky‘s Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace a mixed review.
David Roberts spent 12 hours in front of a screen everyday, frequently hit the daily tweet limit, and saw “every sunset as a potential Instagram.” So he decided to quit the internet for a year and lived to tell the tale for Outside. Yet disconnecting isn’t as easy as signing off Twitter. “One striking feature of the digital-self-help literature is that it treats distraction, overload, and frazzlement almost entirely as personal challenges. If you’re stressed out and unable to concentrate, you’re not enlightened enough. Meditate harder.” Pair with: What’s it like to be from the last generation to remember life before the internet and our own Edan Lepucki’s (slightly shorter) social media detox.
“What [Vladimir] Nabokov is actually doing in Lolita is deliberately drawing on all manner of anti-Semitic propaganda, from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Nazi caricatures of the Jewish ‘type,’ to create in Humbert Humbert the anti-Semitic cliché of legend, rather as, say, Chaucer draws on medieval misogynist writings to create in the figure of the Wife of Bath the archetypal shrew of his male audience’s nightmares.”