Boston has announced the country’s first “Literary Culture District,” marked by memorials to Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath. It also includes some arguably less interesting sites – the buildings that used to house The Atlantic Monthly and Little, Brown and Company, for example. Caroline O’Donovan writes critically about the new district for The Baffler and concludes that “we’ve allowed glib cultural ideals to occlude economic realities, and tourism tax dollars to triumph over a candid conversation about the origins of art and the sustainability of its production.”
We have a lot of prizes that honor well-crafted first novels. But what about the second novel, which is far more likely to be ignored? Herewith, Dan Kois announces that Slate is teaming up with the Whiting Foundation to produce We Second That, a list of under-recognized second novels from the past five years. You could also read our own Bill Morris on the golden age of the second novel.
“I don’t try to deliver a message, teach, inform or ‘give back’ in my books. I simply want to tell a story. My writing is totally separated from my activism and social service, which are channeled through my Foundation.” Megan Bradshaw interviews Isabel Allende for Asymptote Journal.
“Publishers, writers, and readers alike really need to sit down and take this trend [the rise of self-publishing] seriously, rather than using the poetry.coms and AuthorHouses of the world as straw-men, scapegoats, piñatas, or other bludgeonable what-have-yous in the same tired and ineffectual arguments about how the Internet is ruining the publishing industry.”
Some seriously deranged Amazon customer reviews. (via Doc Searls)A year ago “Our Lady of the Underpass” was a Chicago phenomenon. Eric Zorn revisits.Chimney sweeps and flower pots are the stuff of poetry for Sam.Dale Peck’s recent judgment in the Tournament of Books is scarcely worth mentioning, but I did very much enjoy Kevin Guilfoile’s commentary on the topic as well as his tale about meeting Ken Kesey.Kakutani’s reign of terror turns 25.The Literary Saloon points us to Jonathan Franzen’s new book. It’s a memoir, and like Ed, I am disappointed by that.The Rake chats with Charles D’Ambrosio
” I love the shape of words, I love the comet-tail histories of words. I love the roll and crunch of syllables in my mouth.” In Electric Literature, Laura van den Berg interviews R.O. Kwon about religious fanaticism, “unknowing,” and her upcoming debut novel, The Incendiaries. Pair with: Kwon’s 2017 Year in Reading.