Philip Roth, who just authorized Blake Bailey to be his official biographer, has written an “Open Letter to Wikipedia” wherein the author states his grievance with the site’s entry for his novel The Human Stain. Related: can we just give this dude the Nobel already?
The Virginia Quarterly Review's Fall 2011 issue, "The Soviet Ghost", is now available online. Not to be missed is Ed Ou's heartbreaking essay and slideshow on how the Soviet government performed nuclear weapons tests on innocent Kazakh citizens. Dimiter Kenarov's essay on Belarusian tractors is simultaneously a personal journey, an impressive work of history, and a good ol' fashioned KGB crime story.
Boston has announced the country's first "Literary Culture District," marked by memorials to Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath. It also includes some arguably less interesting sites - the buildings that used to house The Atlantic Monthly and Little, Brown and Company, for example. Caroline O'Donovan writes critically about the new district for The Baffler and concludes that "we’ve allowed glib cultural ideals to occlude economic realities, and tourism tax dollars to triumph over a candid conversation about the origins of art and the sustainability of its production."
This may be a temporary thing, but David Foster Wallace's posthumously published novel The Pale King appears to be shipping now from Amazon, more than two weeks ahead of the official tax day publication date. Update: From the official Pale King Facebook page: the book "doesn't have a one day laydown: stores can sell it as soon as it's in their shop." So looks like the book is now available everywhere. Do you have your copy yet?
James Baldwin was more famous for being an essayist and novelist, but he was also a film critic. At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky argues that Baldwin should be considered one of the best film critics for The Devil Finds Work. "Baldwin shows that criticism is art, which means that it doesn't need a purpose or a rationale other than truth, or beauty, or keeping faith, or doing whatever it is we think art is trying to do." For more on Baldwin, read our essay on his epiphanies.
At Goodreads, join debut novelists Malena Watrous, Peter Bognanni, Emily Gray Tedrowe, and Sonya Chung for a meaty and candid discussion, including confessions about procrastination and the fact that we all actually really enjoy writing. Moderated by Katrina Kittle. Click here to join.