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.)
“How can we trust ourselves? Trust that our skills will return? Trust that this blank document—this one, right now—won’t be our undoing? The previous essay I wrote won’t save me when the blank document stares, and the deadline looms, and the editor lurks, and the readers wait.” Mensah Demary on writing and forgetting.
“Every single book or painting or piece of music exists and we take from it what we need and love and shape it into another narrative that goes out into the world or stays within us, so it’s this great thing of one narrative piling onto the next. It’s hard to define.” Miriam Toews talks with The Rumpus about her novel All My Puny Sorrows and the distinctions, or lack thereof, between autobiography and fiction.