As the world knows, letter writing is dead, killed by the popularity of email. However, before email killed letters, the telephone killed them, as did the typewriter, the telegraph and the adhesive postage stamp. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
A couple dozen leading literary magazine editors recently found themselves debating "submission fees" in a long, heated, and candid listserv discussion. The complete transcript - names have been changed to protect the innocent - is alternately depressing and heartening. It's a must-read for anyone who publishes in little magazines, or plans to, or is just curious about how editors see themselves. (Update (11/12): Apparently, the literary magazine that published this content on its website had not been authorized to do so by the Council of Literary Magazines and Small Presses, which administers the listserv. The content has since been taken down; we've de-activated the link to reflect that.)
Sam Tanenhaus asks, What do this season’s political books tell us about the election? As he puts it, “Election-year analyses always seem to arrive too late or too soon. They are useful nonetheless. The mistakes and misapprehensions — what the authors thought they knew — mirror the broader thinking of their moment.” Pair with this Millions essay on politics and excessive language.
"I have the impression that the shelves of new releases in US bookstores are becoming more globalized. They’re still not as international as those in bookstores in Rome or Paris or Mexico City or Buenos Aires, where there is a much higher percentage of books in translation. But I think works in translation are becoming much more visible." Mexican author Álvaro Enrigue contends that trends in publishing mean we'll enjoy ever-increasing bounties of translated work. See also: translator Alison Anderson on "Ferrante Fever" and what a great translation adds to the original work.
Starting strong out of the gate with a new short story from Ben Marcus, Electric Lit's latest project, Recommended Reading is here! There's also a single sentence animation and a letter from the editor. And best of all, it's published directly to Tumblr, though you can also read the story on your Kindle or ePub reader.
For whatever reason, the Zippo lighter has earned a place as an icon of Americana, a symbol of everything simple and reliable in the country. At the Ploughshares blog, Nancy McCabein pays a visit to the Zippo Museum, punctuating her account with quotes from works of literature that feature the lighter.
Recommended reading: Michael Booth writes for The Paris Review about the work of Danish author Aksel Sandemose and the "enduring mark on the national character" his satirical Jante Law has left.