Portland-based Literary Arts is offering a total of $59,000 in Fellowships and Book Awards this year for Oregon-based writers and their published works. Past prize recipients have included Wild author Cheryl Strayed, as well as Patrick deWitt for his novel, The Sisters Brothers (which our own Mark O’Connell raved about).
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."
Martin Scorsese is finally making a movie without Leonardo DiCaprio. He and David Tedeschi are working on a documentary about The New York Review of Books. It will cover the publication's history and feature new footage of Joan Didion and Michael Chabon, among others. The film is a work in progress but will premiere at Berlinale next month.
Helen Vendler is one of those rare scholar-writers who doesn’t adhere to a particular school of theory. In her new book of essays, she explains her view of criticism as distinct from both philosophy and scholarship, as a form of learning that’s inherently “unsystematic and idiosyncratic.” In Open Letters Monthly, Jack Hanson reads through the book. You could also read Jonathan Farmer on Rita Dove’s letter to Vendler.
Why is Hamlet so maddeningly indecisive? It’s a question as well-trod as any in literature, yet few people question that dithering is what defines the Prince of Denmark. In The Irish Times, Brian Dillon looks at another way of thinking about the character, one laid out in a recent book, that centers on the idea that Hamlet is crippled by “the burden of knowledge itself.”