Adding to the general hand-wringing over the state of the humanities, Lee Siegel contradicts Leon Wieseltier’s lament that fewer college students are majoring in literature by contending that modern literature courses ruin the joy of reading. “For every college professor who made Shakespeare or Lawrence come alive for the lucky few,” he writes, “there were countless others who made the reading of literary masterpieces seem like two hours in the periodontist’s chair.” (You can also read a similar argument from a humanities professor in The New Republic.)
Tired of waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish his next Game of Thrones novel, a software engineer has developed a neural network to write the book instead (via The Digital Reader). Pair with this consideration of how the HBO series is going off-book and breaking all the rules.
It’s the kind of niggling question that drives a writer mad: is it best to edit a piece after you finish a draft, or is it better to edit while you write? At Electric Lit, Lincoln Michel argues for the latter, on the grounds that it lets writers fix endemic problems before it’s too late. You could also read Lincoln’s 2010 Millions review of the movie Avatar.
“I would have been an abject failure in a writing program. I am not unteachable, but I am probably the only person who can teach myself. I don’t learn extremely well, formally. I wouldn’t even consider myself a very good reader. Maybe a slightly above average reader.” At The Morning News, Robert Birnbaum sits down with Charles Yu.
New this week: 300,000,000 by Blake Butler; Quick Kills by Lynn Lurie; A Different Bed Every Time by Jac Jemc; Sister Golden Hair by Darcey Steinke; J by Howard Jacobson; Electric City by Elizabeth Rosner; The Goddess of Small Victories by Yannick Grannec; The Letters of Samuel Beckett; Volume 3; and Blue Horses by Mary Oliver. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
“It’s like a crackpot combination of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!, Ingmar Bergman’s The Magic Flute and Lars von Trier’s Dogville. Does this crazy idea work? Maybe 70 percent of the time, but when it does it’s both daring and brilliant.” At Salon, Andrew O’Hehir is surprised by Anna Karenina.