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.”
Jacob Silverman reviews two new novels – Note to Self and The More You Ignore Me – that “take on one incarnation of the Internet: the Internet as pathology” but ultimately fail to succeed “in exploring or critiquing digital life with any authority.” He notes that “like any technology, [the Internet] has to be shaped for the purposes of literature.”
“Of all the literary genres, poetry has proved the most resistant to digital technology, not for stodgy cultural reasons but for tricky mechanical ones.” Looks like that might be changing, however, as Open Road releases Flow Chart, Your Name Here and 15 other John Ashbery digital poetry collections.
William T. Vollmann has a new book out, Riding Toward Everywhere about riding freight trains. In what must be a first for Vollmann, the Washington Post describes the book as a “modest little volume.”The New Yorker held a contest to reinterpret Eustace Tilley, its “iconic dandy.” The entries are posted on Flickr.The anxiety brought on by selling books to the used bookstore.The Atlantic website goes free. Everything back to 1995 is available.n+1 interviews a hedge fund manager. It’s surprisingly fascinating (if you skim the technical stuff).Also in the world of big money, a record was broken on Monday. As global markets plummeted, French bank Societe Generale was selling frantically. The bank had just discovered that an employee had fraudulently lost $7.2 billion, believed to be the most ever by a “rogue trader.”
Gore Vidal has died at the age of 86. The prominent author, screenwriter, Norman Mailer-nemesis and political activist published 25 novels, two memoirs and many, many essay volumes in addition to plays, screenplays, and television scripts. For a time, he even loaned his own visage to the silver screen, as Mindy Hung recently pointed out on our site.