“The complexity of texts students are being assigned to read has declined by about three grade levels over the past 100 years,” says Eric Stickney, the educational research director for Renaissance Learning.
“Everyone was compared to García Márquez or Fuentes once upon a time. Now it’s Bolaño or Vila-Matas (best case scenario). I am not sure what the reason for this is. There are many possible explanations. One may be that Latin America is still conceived by many as a kind of remote, torrid zone, an isolated and disconnected region of the world. So the only possible references associated with younger writers are the better-known older ones, always writing within the same language." Over at The White Review, Stephen Sparks interviews Valeria Luiselli about Latin American criticism and borrowing from the past. Also check out Lily Meyer’s Millions review of Luiselli’s new novel, The Story of My Teeth.
"Maurice Sendak drew his partner Eugene after he died, as he had drawn his family members when they were dying. The moment is one he was compelled to capture, pin down, understand, see. Where many— maybe most—people look away, he wanted to render. He was very wrapped up in the goodbye, the flight, the loss; it was almost Victorian, to be so deeply entranced with the moment of death, the instinct to preserve or document it. It’s also the artist’s impulse: to turn something terrible into art, to take something you are terrified of and heartbroken by and make it into something else. For the time it takes to draw what is in front of you, you are not helpless or a bystander or bereft: You are doing your job." On Maurice Sendak and the art of death.
The word "nostalgia" comes from the Greek root nostos, meaning "return home," and algos, or "pain." It's painful because we cannot return home again. Ramp up the nostalgia and check out this elegy to the old school book tour by Keith Lee Morris. If we're talking book tours, here's a piece on the distinct personality types sure to derail your literary event.
“With thirteen other diners, the two professors of English first prepared and then made their way through eight courses, including beef broth, haddock, steak, mutton, chicken, and chocolate profiteroles....The dinner was a recreation of one eaten 132 years earlier, in one of England’s grandest country houses. Among the guests at this first dinner was George Scharf, founding director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, a man not especially famous in his own day and virtually unknown in ours.” Love Among the Archives brings us into the world of George Scharf, a bachelor affectionately deemed “The Most Boring Man in the World.”
Would anyone write novels in a world without copyright? According to Tim Parks, they probably would not. For more on the relationship between the market and the product, see Parks's essay on whether more money leads to better writing.