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.)
Out this week: The Complete Journalism of James Agee; Straight Razor by Randall Mann; The Long Voyage: Selected Letters of Malcolm Cowley; The Virgil Encyclopedia; and a new e-book edition of Incarnadine, the poetry collection by Mary Szybist that won this year’s National Book Award.
Owing to a successful Facebook campaign and some outcries from the Press’s authors, University of Missouri administrators have decided to reinstate the University of Missouri Press—which was recently shuttered—and “rehire” its editor in chief, Clair Wilcox. The goal now, according to the university system’s president, is to “reinvent [the press] in a more cost-effective technological model.”
New this week: Yannick Murphy's latest novel The Call is out this week, as is Tom Scocca's chronicle of expat life, Beijing Welcomes You (Both are written up in our big second-half preview). Also arriving is a new novel from Helen Schulman, This Beautiful Life, and Bed, the debut effort of David Whitehouse, which has already been a (minor) prizewinner in the UK, and which the publisher compares to A Confederacy of Dunces.