Recommended Reading: Patricia Lockwood’s “Rape Joke.”
Writing about a foreign country is always a dodgy proposition, but it seems to be especially thorny when English people and Americans take on their transatlantic brethren. Looking over two contributions to the genre by English writers — Terry Eagleton’s Across the Pond and A.A. Gill’s To America With Love — Carlin Romano concludes that neither manages to “teach us something new about ourselves.”
The Walter Scott prize did an analysis of prize submissions since its eight years of existence-with 650 novels submitted-and found that “38% of its submissions were set in the 20th century, while 19% were set in the Victorian era, between 1837 and 1901.” They also found many of the submissions focus on World Wars II and II and that the number of women historical fiction writers submitting their work has gone up.”The [Walter Scott] Prize celebrates quality, innovation and longevity of writing in the English language, and is open to books first published in the previous year in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth,” the breakdown is fascinating.
“In his column, Manjoo goes on to call out virtual reality for being ‘a lonely, anti-social affair’—but, hey, isn’t that what reading a novel used to be? I mean, before we figured out how to make books ping and arouse competitive instincts by flagging favorite passages of readers who got there before we did. (I don’t mean to harp on Farhad Manjoo or to denigrate his excellent work; his reticence is shared by others in both legacy and new media cautioning against VR.)” It looks like VR is in desperate need of good storytellers.
Roger Boylan at the Boston Review writes about the flourishing posthumous career of Mark Twain: “…more than 5,000 previously unknown letters of Twain’s have surfaced in the last 50 years. This represents an average of two new letters per week, but still only about one-tenth of the 50,000 or so he is believed to have written.” And at Slate, Craig Fehrman discusses the “brilliant brand management” behind the handling of Twain’s autobiography.