Do people enjoy writers like Pynchon and Nabokov in part because they’re so odd? A new paper suggests that we tend to like art when we believe its creator is eccentric. The Atlantic reads through a study that’s a bit of a strange one.
Millions readers in New York: Please join us tonight at McNally Jackson bookstore in Manhattan to celebrate the release of The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books. I’ll be joined by my co-editor Jeff Martin, as well as Reif Larsen and some of the book’s other contributors, including Millions staff writers Garth Risk Hallberg and Emily St. John Mandel. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!
Putting aside for a moment the racist phrenological roots of the terms “highbrow” and “lowbrow,” here’s an interesting conversation on what the difference between them means for literature now. For a historical take, check out this graphic from a 1949 edition of LIFE magazine, which taught me a real gentleman wears fuzzy tweed, and iceberg lettuce is never in style.
“But now that my first book of poems has come out, I’ve become increasingly aware of the challenge of writing a good inscription to a reader. As soon as I’ve got the pen in my hand, I become the most unoriginal message-writer on the planet.” On a little-known gripe about book signings.
Though no big name today, early 20th-century poet Florence Ripley Mastin published prolifically in her lifetime – a dozen times in Poetry, more than 90 in the New York Times. Poetry’s Ruth Graham argues that the successes of Mastin, an untrained amateur, say more about her times than her talent. These days, amateur poets today benefit from refrigerator poetry sets, numerous poetry apps and sites, and the infinite community of the internet, but the Times has long excised poetry from its pages. In the archives, Patrick Wensink meets and analyzes those who doggedly pursue poetry these faded days.