In writing her novel The Last Neanderthal, which published this week, Millions staffer Claire Cameron relied on Jane Smiley’s motto for writing historical fiction: “you are there.” Bonus: Don’t miss our interview with Cameron, in which she describes her many “life-long obsessions.”
Is “literary” fiction just a product of clever marketing? Elizabeth Edmondson thinks it is. At The Guardian, she argues that classically literary authors like Jane Austen had no idea they were writing Literature -- posterity classified their work as such later on. Her essay dovetails nicely with our own Edan Lepucki's argument that literature is a genre.
If you're eagerly anticipating the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, be prepared to wait until 2034. You can blame the internet for the delay, which has made research easier but also leads to information overload. There are so many new words that the dictionary would be 40 volumes if it ever makes it to print, but expect it to be only online instead. For more on the new OED, read a profile of new editor Michael Proffitt.
Booksellers across the country have loaded up dollies with towers of boxes and carted them to the front of the store. Amazon has broken into its super-secret, double-locked, chain-link fence. Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol is here. Understandably, other publishers have ceded this Tuesday almost entirely to the Dan Brown hype machine, but those looking for something (very) different can today find Joyce Carol Oates doing the zombie thing (not really) and the latest from Tao Lin.
"In one of his last columns, published in March 1966, Flann O’Brien looked back on his catechism, compiled more than twenty years earlier, and described it as ‘an exegetic survey of the English language in its extremity of logo-daedalate poliomyelitis, anaemic prostration and the paralysis of incoherence.’ One month after writing that, he was dead, and yet within a year a remarkable renaissance was taking place, with the long-delayed publication of his great comic fantasy The Third Policeman and, soon afterwards, the first of many anthologies of the ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ columns, this one entitled The Best of Myles.” (Related: our own Mark O’Connell on the humor in O’Brien’s work.)
Another Tumblog is being made into a book, this time with a little help from David Shields. Jeff, One Lonely Guy is a collection of recorded conversations and correspondences that were the result of one guy, Jeff Ragsdale , posting a flyer with his phone number all over NYC. Shields is helping Ragsdale arrange the responses he received for publication as an ebook. Ragsdale isn't, according to his Tumblr, all that lonely anymore. Which makes me wonder how Mark Z. Danielewski's fairing on OK Cupid?