Canonical literature isn’t the only way to learn about America. The bestseller list can be equally as telling. Matthew Kahn is reading 100 years of No. 1 bestsellers from 1913 to 2013. He blogs about the books and discusses the project in an interview with Salon’s Laura Miller. When Miller asks what makes a bestseller, he claims, “A lot of it is just a matter of accessibility. A focus on plot and character rather than structure and the prose itself.”
You must obey (and read) your robot overlords! As if winning a literary award wasn’t already hard enough, a story co-authored by computers just made it through at least one round of judging at the Nikkei Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award competition in Japan. But don’t worry, you haven’t lost your job quite yet–the good news is that the programs still have “some problems … such as character descriptions.”
The creative writing department at Florida International University has released the ninth issue of their on-campus literary magazine, Gulf Stream. The issue features the publication’s first inaugural Author Roundtable – a discussion between agents and writers from the Miami Writers Institute and novelists Cathy Day and Marc Fitten.
“These poets foreground elaborate and mythically transgressive evocations of eros in which stylistic excesses counter the violent excesses of homophobia and racial marginalization. The queer Baroque is, fundamentally, a poetry of radical ambivalence.” On Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones.
On the occasion of Scribner’s publication of the “Restored Edition” of A Moveable Feast, Gioia Diliberto, biographer of Ernest Hemingway’s wife Hadley, writes of her discovery of the Hadley Hemingway tapes.Sarah Schmelling’s McSweeney’s piece “Hamlet (Facebook News Feed Edition)” has spawned a book Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don’t Float: Classic Lit Signs on to Facebook, the canon retold in social networking parlance.Speaking of the canon, The Second Pass plays devil’s advocate and tells us which of history’s most praised books are best avoided. (We will pass over in silence the inclusion of One Hundred Years of Solitude.)Mark Athitakis writes about the National Book Award in 1980, “an interesting time for the prize.” The previous year, publishers pulled out of the awards, contending according to an NYT article, “the awards favored little-read books.” (This criticism resurfaced in 2004.) After 1980, the festivities ballooned to eight fiction categories before eventually being scaled back in subsequent years. (via Maud)In Slate, Nathaniel Rich wonders why “the most peaceful people on earth [Scandinavians] write the greatest homicide thrillers.”The “Significant Objects project,” in which worthless trinkets are sold on eBay along with original fiction written about said worthless trinkets, has launched. Participants include Curtis Sittenfeld, Lydia Millet, Matthew Sharpe, Sam Lipsyte, and a few dozen others. The eBay auctions can be found here.
Edvard Munch’s The Scream recently garnered a record breaking $119.9 million at Sotheby’s in New York. Despite the “tasty narrative potential” of the iconic artwork, the Pulitizer Prize winning art critic Holland Cotter thinks that the painting’s new owner spent their vast sum of money unwisely.