“You have a hard time imagining how the things you’ve experienced or discovered, which seem abjectly personal, could be of use to another writer. You’re aware that you can follow every single rule in the book, and still write a crappy story.” The Preservationist author Justin Kramon grapples with the idea of teaching writing to college students.
“With thirteen other diners, the two professors of English first prepared and then made their way through eight courses, including beef broth, haddock, steak, mutton, chicken, and chocolate profiteroles….The dinner was a recreation of one eaten 132 years earlier, in one of England’s grandest country houses. Among the guests at this first dinner was George Scharf, founding director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, a man not especially famous in his own day and virtually unknown in ours.” Love Among the Archives brings us into the world of George Scharf, a bachelor affectionately deemed “The Most Boring Man in the World.”
John Sunyer checks in with Franco Moretti at the Stanford Literary Lab. Moretti, a 63-year-old professor of English, is the author of Distant Reading – a book in which he lays out his long-held belief that “literary study doesn’t require scholars to actually read the books.” Rather, he believes in a “new approach to literature [that] depends on computers to crunch ‘big data,’ or stores of massive amounts of information, to produce new insights.”
The essay is more popular than ever. At Salon, Michele Filgate talks to Leslie Jamison (author of The Empathy Exams, here’s our review) and Roxane Gay (author of the forthcoming Bad Feminist) about the power of the genre. Gay believes our interest in essays is because of a “cultural preoccupation with the exposure of the self.” They also discuss if we’re in a golden age of women essayists. “Sometimes when men write about private feeling, it’s seen as exploratory or daring, and when women write about private feeling it’s seen as limited or in the vein of a kind of circumscribed emotional writing,” Jamison says.