Last week, I wrote about Will Self’s claim that the novel is dead, which inspired a historical analysis from Daniel D’Addario at Salon. Now, at The Globe and Mail, Russell Smith wonders: is the novel-is-dead article dead?
On Monday we mentioned that the MTA has started offering free e-books underground as part of its Subway Reads program, but they weren’t the first to make books an integral part of the public transit experience. London’s Books on the Underground was first, but then came a more interesting development in Australia: book ninjas. Books on the Rails is a gonzo experiment started by two Melbourne residents who began releasing free books – actual, paper books – into the wilds of the city’s tram system. About 300 books are currently in circulation in what’s possibly the world’s most open lending library.
“These people may not take you seriously. And your boss might not either. Or your dentist or your best friend from middle school. But you who does take you seriously? Dictators. Dictators take you very seriously. Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and Augusto Pinochet, all rounded up writers and artists in short order. They could not afford to have the unpredictability of literature at large while they were trying to create a totalitarian state.” Wendy Willis on subversion through writing for The Rumpus.
Earlier this month, Jack Daniel’s wrote Patrick Wensink a cease-and-desist order because the cover of Wensink’s latest novel, Broken Piano For President, bears a striking resemblance to the whisky’s logo. Surprisingly, instead of some whisky-soaked tirade, the letter is really, really nice.
Last month, Austin Bunn published The Brink, his debut collection of short stories. The stories, as Ryan Krull describes them in The Rumpus, hinge on pushing characters to some personal limit of behavior. In an interview, Bunn talks about why that is, as well as his new short film, In the Hollow.
In 1979, William Gaddis taught a course at Bard College on “The Literature of Failure,” examining works that somehow focused on personal failure or insufficiency. These included, among other books, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays, as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In Bookforum, Casey Michael Henry takes on a related genre: the literature of obsolescence. You could also read James Cappio on meeting Gaddis in person.