We’ve already decided that it’s okay for fictional characters to be unlikable, but what about nonfiction writers? At the VQR blog, Jennifer Niesslein interviews essayists on whether their success is based on how amiable they are. “I think it’s ridiculous to expect to like someone who wrote a book you love, but the increasing visibility of writers on social media—who are expected to be the ambassadors of their books—amps up the pressure to be well-liked,” Cheryl Strayed said.
Reviews are still in the literary news, and in the midst of all the nicey niceness and plentiful hot air, Alix Ohlin got a real smack down in the Times for her new novel, Inside, and her new collection of short stories Signs and Wonders. Which prompted J. Robert Lennon to consider: How does one even write a good “bad” review?
If the description “a comic thriller about mermaids, the natural world and ruthless capitalism” isn’t enough to pique your interest, you might be inspired to pick up Lydia Millet’s latest by the title of Laura Miller’s review, which describes Millet as “the P.G. Wodehouse of environmental writing.” At Salon, the book critic goes into the many reasons she enjoys Millet’s work, among them the author’s knack for deploying humor at appropriate times. FYI, Millet wrote an article for The Millions recently.
Authors photos “defeat the purpose of imaginative literature, in general, and of much poetry, in particular, because they invite us to get to know an author by something other than her creations in words,” poet Stephen Burt argues. Pair with our own Edan Lepucki’s musings on the topic.