The novelist Julie Schumacher wrote her latest, Dear Committee Members, entirely in the form of letters of recommendation. The format allowed her to illustrate the travails of a creative writing professor through a medium often ignored in fiction. At The Awl, Jessica Gross and Merve Emre talk about the novel. Pair with: Cathy Day on academia’s novel crisis.
“Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—T. S. Eliot is of this type.” President Obama wrote these words as a twenty-two-year-old student, but Edward Mendelson argues that Obama’s words as a literary critic reveal his tendencies as a politician. Check out our own Michael Bourne’s review of Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, where Obama’s letter was originally published.
David Gessner thinks Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey are more relevant than they’ve ever been. Why? Their stories about the West anticipated the California drought. At Salon, Gessner explains why, among other things, Stegner spent much of his life debunking Western individualism.
Writing about European immigration laws for the London Review of Books, Jeremy Harding drops this excellent line: “Perhaps we should agree to think of rights and values as limited resources, and admit that Europe is now caught in a bitter struggle over who can or can’t access them.”
This month, Boost House is publishing what the New Yorker describes as “the first English-language paperbound anthology of Alt Lit and its siblings weird Twitter … and Flarf.” The collection – The YOLO Pages – features work by Steve Roggenbuck, Tao Lin, Patricia Lockwood, and (of course) @Horse_ebooks among others. But far from being a compendium of “vomit jokes and image macros of cats,” writes Kenneth Goldsmith, the book also contains poems “that obliquely grapple with bigger issues of morality, politics, feminism, capitalism, and the environment.”