“Well, continuing with my policy of baring my soul, Dwight Garner said something like, the book was like one of those satellite photos of North Korea when I talked about the second marriage. I obviously had very little access to Updike from ‘77 on, really. And I cheated a bit by using Ian McEwan as my spy in the Updike household. First of all, Updike definitely did pull up the drawbridge and retire into his castle and I thought, in a sense, that this should be respected. He had decided on his persona, at that point—the highly professional man of letters. And I thought, why not let him go out with that persona intact?” At The Awl, Elon Green talks with Adam Begley about his new biography of John Updike.
In the mid-aughts, Jonathan Gottschall pioneered “literary Darwinism,” a new form of analysis which applied evolutionary theory to works of literature. It was part of a wider upheaval in English departments across the country. Now, more than ten years later, we can make an assessment: how’d it work out for Gottschall? The answer: not well. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
In his 2001 treatise, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, Nicholson Baker lamented the wholesale transfer of newspaper archives to microfilm and the subsequent destruction of the originals (A recent essay here at The Millions argued that this is still a big problem). But, according to an article in The Missourian newspaper, microfilm may at least be far more permanent than easily corrupted digital archives. As executive editor Tom Warhover notes: "How about those perfectly preserved newspaper pages that have been digitally fossilized? They're usually stored on hard drives, which can wear out quicker than your grandmother's underwear."
“Keep a close eye on your Twitter account. Important things may be said there that you will be expected to weigh in on, and if you don’t, everyone will wonder if you fell asleep in the bathroom stall of the bar last night and are still there, head sunken low next to the toilet, one lost contact lens embedded somewhere in the floor grime. Make sure they know you’re not; that was the you of 100 million years ago.” Jen Doll on writing and not-writing.
The Man Booker International prize was just awarded to Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai, author of Satantango (later adapted for film by Béla Tarr) and Seiobo There Below. When asked to recommend a starting point for readers who have yet to encounter his work, the author defers: “I couldn’t recommend anything … instead, I’d advise them to go out, sit down somewhere, perhaps by the side of a brook, with nothing to do, nothing to think about, just remaining in silence like stones. They will eventually meet someone who has already read my books.” Well, if a stream isn't handy, we have a few ideas: our own interview with Krasznahorkai, Stephanie Newman's review of Seiobo There Below, and Music and Literature's issue no. 2, featuring literature on and by Krasznahorkai and Béla Tarr.
DeAndre McCullough died last week at the age of 35. McCullough was famously portrayed as the young protagonist in David Simon and Edward Burns’s book The Corner, which went on to become its own HBO miniseries. The Wire later adopted aspects from both the book and the miniseries. The obituary Simon wrote is not to be missed.