Measuring a writer’s success is tricky. An author might make The New York Times Bestseller List now but only be a footnote in an encyclopedia a century later. At The Guardian, D.J. Taylor wonders what contributes to a writer’s posterity and concludes a pushy publisher or sponsor is often a writer’s best asset. Pair with: Our essay on how John Updike fans attempt to maintain his reputation.
Harold Bloom turns eighty-five this year, which makes it all the more impressive that his forty-fifth book, The Daemon Knows, comes out this week. At Vulture, Amy Bloom (no relation) has tea and scones with the Yale professor, who talks about Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and why a critic called his new book “an invectorium.” You could also read Matt Hanson on his last volume of criticism.
Tim Parks investigates the idea of “writing to death” in the cases of Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, Anton Chekhov, Charles Dickens and William Faulkner. “So many of the writers I have looked at seem permanently torn between irreconcilable positions,” Parks writes. “Eventually, the dilemma driving the work either leads to death, or is neutralized in a way that prolongs life but dulls the writing” (Bonus: Our own Mark O’Connell just reviewed Parks’s latest book, Italian Ways.)
Jeff Bezos married a novelist, "expressed a passionate devotion to books", and may be the one person mild-mannered indie bookshop owners hate more than any other. How'd that happen? After perusing a short history from the New York Review of Books, see for yourself with our vintage news announcements on Amazon's innovations in pay-per-page pricing, now-old products like the Kindle, and its industry-changing acquisitions of The Washington Post and the English language.