“The clash of genre values is fundamental to the novelistic experience. That’s how we ought to be thinking about our books. Instead of asking whether a comic book could be “as valuable” as King Lear, we ought to ask how the values of tragedy and romance might collide.” Joshua Rothman writes about the coming “collapse of the genre system” and our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s National Book Award short-listed Station Eleven for The New Yorker.
Lit crit becomes a legal matter: “The contrast between the total concept and feel of the works is so stark that any serious comparison of the two strains credulity,” wrote the English judge who has dismissed the case against J.K. Rowling brought by the estate of Willy the Wizard author Adrian Jacobs. Jacobs’ estate claimed that Rowling had plagiarized elements of Willy the Wizard‘s plot in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
What is the greatest crime in literary history? Depending on who you ask, it was probably the burning of Byron’s memoirs. Shortly after his death, three of Byron’s closest friends, along with a few attorneys representing family interests, decided that the memoirs were too scandalous to publish and thus tossed them bit by bit into a fireplace. They claim to have been acting in his best interest, and, as Byron himself said, “There is no instinct like that of the heart.”
Charles McGrath at The New York Times reviews Per Petterson’s new novel I Curse the River of Time: “…at moments when a lot of American prose seems fizzy and over-rich, the sentences in I Curse the River of Time go down like an eye-watering shot of aquavit.”
Celebrate the 2010 Melbourne Literary Festival–going on now through September 5th–by watching this funny promo video, “10 Facts about Books That You Won’t Read in a Book About Books”.
On a more optimistic note, New Directions, New York City’s inestimable and long struggling (but “long dazzling!”) publishing house, will be throwing itself a 75th birthday party on Thursday, October 27. (They just redesigned their website and colophon, too.)