"There is a term in the legal world for such instructions — dead hand control — and, although compliance has varied and enforceability is debatable, they have been attempted by artists from Franz Kafka to a Beastie Boy." The New York Times explores the potential impact of Edward Albee's will on his work, including his instruction that any manuscripts incomplete at the time of his death be destroyed. Pairs perfectly with Aaron Hamburger's recollection of staying at the famous playwright's place out in Long Island for an artists' residency.
"An appreciation of readers as diverse individuals with different tastes should be a basic tenet of criticism. Instead, it’s common for critics to imagine that their aesthetic preferences are the reflections of “readers” or a special class of readers—“serious readers,” “imaginative readers,” “brave readers,” or some other ill-defined category—whose views truly matter." Lincoln Michel explains why "there's no such thing as a fake reader" in an essay for Electric Literature.
“What we call them is entirely irrelevant: emigrants, migrants, refugees, exiles—we all know to whom we refer. Refugeedom is our common cultural meme. It is the story with which Christian civilization begins. We bear the imprint of the furious index finger God used to banish Adam and Eve from Eden.” Dubravka Ugrešić writes about displacement and the refugee crisis for the Literary Hub. Pair with Arnon Grunberg's Millions essay on Ugrešić’s legacy.
“They were town men. The sheriff and the other four went into his shack. One of them was Hines, the undertaker. They were in there for some time. They even opened the stove and dug through the ashes.” Stephen King has a story in this week’s New Yorker.
“I’ve learnt so much from this profound novelist about nuance, understatement, technique.” Eighteen handwritten homages to Jane Austen by well-known writers are up for auction until tomorrow. Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Hilary Mantel, and Ian McEwan are among the authors whose tributes will raise funds for the Royal Society of Literature, reports The Guardian. And read our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
Recommended Reading: Daniel Marc Janes on the fictional namesakes of London’s mayor.
You’ve read Elif Batuman’s dissertation on the double-entry book-keeping of novelists (pdf), but now your “debit” balance is low. (Whose isn’t these days?) Enter Sheila Heti and Misha Glouberman. They can document your very essence. The Paris Review has an excerpt from The Chairs Are Where the People Go.