At The New Yorker, Sarah Miller humorously learns why only positive book reviews might be a bad thing. “If St. Petersburg is the Little Engine That Could of city names, then the main character, Raskolnikov, is the Little Engine That Could of elderly pawnbroker murderers,” she writes in her review of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.
M. Evelina Galang, author of Her Wild American Self and current director of the University of Miami’s MFA Creative Writing Program, is featured in the latest issue of Kartika Review, “a national Asian/Pacific Islander American literary arts journal.” You can read the entire Fall 2011 issue for free.
It’s common for descriptions of James Joyce’s Dubliners to label its stories portraits of Irish life. If you’d like to look at actual portraits of Irish life in 1904, however, you could do a lot worse than this series of old photos of Dublin, available online courtesy of the Google Cultural Institute.
“A coroner’s pronouncement of suicide (felo da se) resulted in forfeiture of the deceased’s goods and property to the state, often leaving any surviving relatives destitute. So the increasingly common verdict of temporary insanity (non compos mentis) may suggest a change in how people understood the act of self-destruction: no longer construed as a demonic temptation, it came instead to be viewed as a symptom of lunacy.” On the prevalence of suicide in eighteenth-century English literature.
Guernica’s latest issue is devoted to the American South. As the issue’s introduction states, “The American South is at once a geographical distinction and a bright spot in the imagination, where burden vies with birthright, and where ignorance and renaissance exist side by side.” The issue features a Kiese Laymon essay on inequality and language, Ed Winstead on the Southern accent in writing, an interview with Jesmyn Ward, fiction, and more.
“I began to wonder: what would a manifesto for bad poetry look like? Would it differ either superficially or deeply from the art’s graver manifestos? It really wouldn’t have to. It would merely have to persuade, and persuasion sounds very much the same whether it is honest or dishonest. If it was any good it would hold great attractiveness as a snappy piece of writing, but, if followed, it would be certain to produce bad poetry. Some harmless sophistry. In this it would be more effective than any positive manifesto, because, if guided well, no-one who sets out to write a bad poem is going to accidentally write an excellent one.” Erik Kennedy lays out a manifesto for bad poetry, titled “Precepts for Perfection in Poetry,” for The Rumpus. For a counterpoint, pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s look at very good and very sad poetry, “The Saddest Poem Ever Written.”
At long last Renata Adler’s re-released Speedboat is out from NYRB Classics. The book’s attracted quite a bit of (deserved) pre-release hype. Also out today are a pair of books covered in our Great 2013 Book Preview: Vladimir Nabokov’s The Tragedy of Mr. Morn (no relation to yours truly) and Aleksandar Hemon’s The Book of My Lives. In three days you can get your hands on Kristopher Jansma’s debut novel The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards.
Willard Spiegelman’s provocative essay in the VQR’s recent State of American Poetry issue, “Has Poetry Changed?” incited quite a few responses. One of the better rejoinders came from William Childress, whose response, “Is Free Verse Killing Poetry,” raises some excellent points. “Poetry needs readers, not writers,” writes Childress. “But how many poets read any poetry but their own?”