Jacob Silverman tackles the niceness epidemic besieging literary criticism at the moment. Where have the hatchet jobs gone? Is social media’s “communalism” robbing critics of their fangs? Each time a publication refuses to print a negative review, the act amounts to “a victory for a publicist, but not for readers,” he writes. (Just a few notes: Silverman’s piece is based on a blog post he wrote recently; Emma Straub has responded on her own blog; and, for what it’s worth, our own Michael Bourne’s recent review of Richard Ford’s Canada was pretty toothy.)
Poet and essayist Adrienne Rich passed way this afternoon at the age of 82, the LA Times confirms. Her influence on writing and activism is immeasurable, and this is a sad day of all of literature. The Poetry Foundation's short biography of the poet is not to be missed, and nor are her poems "Final Notions," and "For the Dead."
Matthew Stadler of Publication Studio hits NYC on his NAFTA tour just in time for the 4th of July weekend. The Saturday evening begins with a ghost tour of sorts, of the city’s “disappeared bookstores,” and a lavish Mexican dinner will follow. If the feasts in Stadler's latest novel, Chloe Jarren’s La Cucaracha, are any indication, expect copious cocktails and intriguing conversations. More details here.
Good Books is an online book retailer that donates all of its proceeds to Oxfam. It's also a big fan of trippy literary homage. In a collaboration with two creative studios, and without consulting the Hunter S. Thompson or Franz Kafka estates, the group's released a promo that draws on some of the most "out-there" elements of both writers.
In addition to its overt references to Robert Chambers’s The King in Yellow, HBO’s breakout hit, True Detective, seems also to draw from the work of a self-published poet named Dennis McHale. Or is it the other way around? (Bonus: Lincoln Michel drew up a reading list of southern gothic books similar in tone to the HBO series.)