“Courage is not a word I’d use to describe a lot of today’s fiction. Writing, M.F.A. students are often told, is a messy exploration of the self. The result can be a suffocating narcissism, a lack of interest in the kind of extrapolation and exploration that is necessary to both mathematics and literature.” At Page-Turner, Alexander Nazaryan urges young writers to learn math.
"Why do we spend so much time with stories whose endings we already know?" Derek Thompson writes about nostalgia and culture for The Atlantic, and his piece pairs well with Katy Waldman's Slate essay about "thinking that you’re not getting as much from reading as you used to."
Disappointed by how few of the dozens of official book cover designs of Nabokov's Lolita "correspond thematically to the novel," blog Venus febriculosa is holding a book cover design contest (pdf) to create a new cover for Lolita and is awarding a $350 prize. (Thx, John)
Harper Perennial is pairing the expansive resources of a major publishing house with the exciting risks of an indie press. Could this magical formula catch on at other houses?
Serious reading is harder than ever. With so many distractions around, it’s incredibly difficult for a novel to keep our attention. In The Nation, Joanna Scott makes a case that careful reading is in danger, and builds a case for preserving difficult fiction. You could also read our own Nick Ripatrazone on trying to teach Thomas Pynchon.
“On the other hand, I do spend endless hours mulling over the mystery of what others like. Again and again the question arises: How can they?” Tim Parks asks us why we enjoy reading what we read at The New York Review of Books. For Millions readers’ favorites, check out October’s Top 10.