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.)
Ordinarily I would caution against reading a novel’s first draft, however in the case of Finnegans Wake, perhaps all rules should be tossed out the window. With this one, it seems as though any and all supplemental material might help unlock the finished product’s mysteries. Case in point: the entire first draft of Joyce’s most perplexing novel. (Of course, when all else fails, there’s always Michael Chabon to save the day.)
Alexandra Alter interviews National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates about the success of Between the World and Me. As he puts it, "The best part of writing is really to educate yourself. I don’t want to be anybody’s expert. I came in to learn." Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s Millions piece on Coates’s epistolary essay.
Why innovate when you can just Google and copy? Mark Pagel on the perils of "being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet."
“Like all great literature, [David Foster Wallace’s] books do many things at once. Litchat, however, is singleminded.” Laura Miller discusses “the perils of litchat” at The New Yorker and how it has affected the legacy of David Foster Wallace. For less litchat, read our review of The David Foster Wallace Reader.
Sudoku getting too easy, you say? Try making (or, rather, writing) one instead, like this nine-paneled comic that works across, down, or on a diagonal.