“Writers are outsiders, and usually not by their own choosing. It’s why they’re writers. If they didn’t feel alienated from human experience, they wouldn’t feel so drawn to writing to make sense of their lives. It’s not the outsider’s facility for language that makes her a writer — many a student body president or homecoming queen can turn a phrase — but her ability to howl at the moon, on the page.” Karen Karbo writes for Powell’s Books’s blog about how much publishing has changed in the last 20-some years, but she also has a lot of great words about why people would want to deal with writing and publishing in the first place. Pair her smart essay with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s piece “Practical Art: On Teaching the Business of Creative Writing.”
Callie Collins sits down with Emily Bell, the editor of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Originals, in the latest issue of Midnight Breakfast. Bell also published Lucia Berlin’s recent story collection A Manual for Cleaning Women. Bell states: “The voices I publish, they’re not trying to please their readers.”
The Financial Times takes a detailed look at the Financial Computing Centre, home of future quants, where Michael Galas is working to build “a hedge fund without employees” and a crop of PhD candidates are using social media to predict the markets. Could these algorithms one day spill beyond finance, and influence education or social sciences?
Jacob Silverman tackles the niceness epidemic besieging literary criticism at the moment. Where have the hatchet jobs gone? Is social media’s “communalism” robbing critics of their fangs? Each time a publication refuses to print a negative review, the act amounts to “a victory for a publicist, but not for readers,” he writes. (Just a few notes: Silverman’s piece is based on a blog post he wrote recently; Emma Straub has responded on her own blog; and, for what it’s worth, our own Michael Bourne’s recent review of Richard Ford’s Canada was pretty toothy.)
It’s not easy being a seagull. Over at the London Review of Books, Mary Wellesley takes a sympathetic look at how the much-maligned bird has been treated throughout the history of literature. Afterwards, let this essay from The Millions by Kristen Scharold on the joys of birdwatching lift your spirits a bit.