Recommended Reading: a piece from the New York Review of Books blog on modern attention spans and what they mean for literature. Hint: it’s not looking too promising. Tim Parks closes with a prediction that “the novel of elegant, highly distinct prose, of conceptual delicacy and syntactical complexity, will tend to divide itself up into shorter and shorter sections, offering more frequent pauses where we can take time out. The larger popular novel, or the novel of extensive narrative architecture, will be ever more laden with repetitive formulas, and coercive, declamatory rhetoric to make it easier and easier, after breaks, to pick up, not a thread, but a sturdy cable.”
Kevin Courier is re-running interviews he did for the CBC in the 1980s on the Critics At Large site. Here’s his 1986 interview with Barbara Brenden, author of The Passion of Ayn Rand. Brenden’s book, Courier writes, “not only unveiled this polarizing figure” of Ayn Rand, but it “also illustrated the perils of blind faith and idolatry.” Given the Objectivist’s influence on a certain vice presidential candidate, this one’s worth a read.
“On January 14, 2017, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus—America’s oldest and best circus, America’s last true touring circus—announced that it was closing, and six days later the country mourned, with an exit parade, a grand-finale funeral: the inauguration of Donald J. Trump.” Year-in-Reading alum Joshua Cohen, whose Book of Numbers spent seven months on our top-10 list back in 2015, and whose new novel Moving Kings made our most-anticipated list for the latter half of this year, reflects on the end of an era for The Point.
It’s not often that a major publisher listens to a new author when they request a specific painting be used for their book cover. But they listened to Naomi Jackson, and over at the Literary Hub she explains her choice of cover art for Star Side of Bird Hill and the Caribbean significance behind it.