“People used to wish that life could be as it is in books—that it could have the beauty, drama, and shapeliness that writers gave it. Today, by contrast, we hope desperately that life is not really like our writers portray it; in other words, we hope that writers are not representative men and women, but unfit beings whose perceptions are filtered through their unhealth. It is necessary to hope this, because if life were as it appears in our literature it would be unlivable.” Adam Kirsch explores the downside of literary nostalgia.
Sarcasm makes the Internet go round. No, seriously, it basically does, and over at The Toast a linguist examines some of the strategies writers have developed, or are trying to develop, to communicate that sarcasm through writing, without the benefit of an eye-roll and a different tone of voice.
HTMLGiant’s A. D. Jameson went and saw part one of The Hobbit in theatres so now none of us have to do the same. Instead, sit back and check out his “250 Points” about the film. Or, if you’d prefer a blast of Tolkien analysis from the past, check out W. H. Auden’s 1956 book review of The Return of the King.
After Herzog came out, Saul Bellow began the slow transformation from young Bellow into old Bellow, from the critically adored but little-known writer to the Nobel Prize winner whose views were solicited on every topic. In The New Yorker, Louis Menand writes about a new biography of the author, which tackles his early career. Related: our own Emily St. John Mandel on Bellow’s novel The Bellarosa Connection.
To kick off 2010, we at The Millions are thrilled to announce that Emily St. John Mandel has joined us as a regular contributor. Emily lives in Brooklyn. Her first novel, Last Night In Montreal, was recently published by Unbridled Books; her second novel, The Singer’s Gun, will be published by the same press in May 2010. Her pieces for The Millions are collected here. Welcome Emily!
Word is there have been sightings of the book I co-edited The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books in the wild, though it’s officially due in March. You can keep up on all the news about the book, including events and links to excerpts on the book’s new Facebook page.