Are people losing interest in fiction that “offers more questions than answers?” In her book Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel, Jane Smiley suggested that modern readers have little taste for uncertainty. At The Rumpus, Rob Roberge asks how much this contributes to popular disinterest in literature.
As a literary technique, imitation is usually thought of as an amateur move, despite the number of classic works that began as overt acts of mimicry. At the Ploughshares blog, Anca Szilagyi comes up with several prompts for writers who want to imitate thoughtfully.
The Atlantic reviews the first full-length biography of Joan Didion, The Last Love Song by Tracy Daugherty, to be released August 25th. The biography “looks at the author’s legacy of cool.” Related: Franklin Strong’s essay on “The Manliness of Joan Didion” in The Millions.
Didn't find the latest New Yorker cartoon funny? Take it up with The New Yorker's cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff, who discusses the magazine's "idea drawings" and humor in his TED talk, Anatomy of a New Yorker Cartoon. Bonus: check out Mankoff's favorite New Yorker cartoons.
This week we have new on shelves: Julie Orringer's hotly anticipated debut novel The Invisible Bridge; Meghan Daum's memoir of real estate addiction Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House, Private Life by Jane Smiley, and The Singer's Gun by our own Emily St. John Mandel.
Those who watch the book deal emails from Publishers Lunch know that Chad Harbach, an editor at n+1, recently sold his first novel, The Art of Fielding, but a Bloomberg article today reveals it went for an eye-popping $650,000. The book centers around baseball at a fictional Wisconsin college, and Bloomberg pegs the deal as "one of the highest prices for a man’s first novel on a topic appealing to a male audience." Possible buried lede: n+1 compatriots Benjamin Kunkel and Keith Gessen saw their first novels sell 48,000 and 7,000 copies respectively, according to Neilsen BookScan.
Megaupload's demise has the internet in an uproar, but the shutdown of the sharing site is unlikely to put a dent in online piracy. Still, sites such as FileSonic, FileServe, and and Uploaded.to have taken matters into their own hands by disabling sharing access in the United States, and MediaFire's CEO has issued a preemptive statement on the matter. None of this is particularly surprising, though, which is why it's so refreshing--for all fans of Schadenfreude--to learn that Kim Dotcom, Megaupload's "Goldfinger"-esque founder, plans on releasing an album in the near future.
Guernica's latest issue is devoted to the American South. As the issue's introduction states, "The American South is at once a geographical distinction and a bright spot in the imagination, where burden vies with birthright, and where ignorance and renaissance exist side by side." The issue features a Kiese Laymon essay on inequality and language, Ed Winstead on the Southern accent in writing, an interview with Jesmyn Ward, fiction, and more.