In 1979, William Gaddis taught a course at Bard College on “The Literature of Failure,” examining works that somehow focused on personal failure or insufficiency. These included, among other books, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays, as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In Bookforum, Casey Michael Henry takes on a related genre: the literature of obsolescence. You could also read James Cappio on meeting Gaddis in person.
How often do journalists unfairly stereotype the Rust Belt? All the time, says Jim Russell. In a piece for Pacific Standard, he argues that much of the reporting on Dayton, Flint and other industrial towns falls prey to hyperbole and generalization. (Related: Darryl Campbell on the recession and Rust Belt fiction.)
While on the publicity tour for his latest book, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, Michael Lewis stops by NPR‘s “Fresh Air” to talk Greece, the Euro, California’s “third world problems,” and the Occupy Wall Street protests. The author also gets a nice write-up in the latest New York Magazine, and his interview on last night’s “The Daily Show” ran so long, they had to put the full version online. (Start “The Daily Show”‘s clip at ~21:50 for the interview.)
In the mid-90s, David Foster Wallace published a scathing review of a John Updike novel, Toward the End of Time, that became a key text for critics of the celebrated author. Now, at The New Republic, David Baddiel argues that Updike gets a bad rap, while Jeffrey Meyers backs up DFW’s position. It might also be a good time to read James Santel’s review of Updike’s Collected Stories.
Psychotherapist Ariel Garten redefines consciousness at TEDx Toronto. “The problem with escaping your day-to-day life,” she says, “is that you have to come home eventually.” Her question, which she answers in the affirmative, is whether we can “find ways to know ourselves without the escape? Can we redefine our relationship with the technologized world in order to have the heightened sense of self-awareness that we seek? Can we live here and now in our wired web, and still follow those ancient instructions: ‘Know thyself’?”