According to the Times, The Guardian and other sources, Things Fall Apart author Chinua Achebe has died. Last October, we published a review of his final book, There Was a Country, which you might want to reread as a first step to considering his legacy. (You could also check out our piece on Things Fall Apart.)
There are reality TV shows for aspiring designers, singers, and chefs, so what about writers? The Italian reality show Masterpiece will pit writers against each other in competition for a book deal. As judge Giancarlo De Cataldo said, “The book is dying, and we must do everything we can to save it. Even a talent show.” We expect a lot of dramatic crying at typewriters.
Following up their publication of Charles Portis’s “Motel Life, Lower Reaches" online, the Oxford American brings us a speech in verse by Jay Jennings, the editor of a recent compilation of Portis’s work (which our own Bill Morris reviewed). Jennings delivered an ode to Portis to mark the author winning the Porter Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. Sample quote: “But you read the next book because the main character was from Little Rock,/and you knew no other book where the main character was from Little Rock/and you wanted to write a book about Little Rock."
What is the function of the art critic, anyway? According to Barry Schwabsky at The Nation, it is not "making or breaking" an artist, but rather "opening up perspectives without ... belaboring them." For the critically minded among you, here's a Millions review of A.O. Scott's new book Better Living Through Criticism.