There are all kinds of arguments for reading the canon (Italo Calvino‘s come to mind) but why should we spend time reading untested contemporary authors? Tim Parks tackles this question, with a little help from Virginia Woolf, for The New York Review of Book‘s blog, and his argument pairs well with Guy Patrick Cunningham‘s Millions essay on reading the classics.
Former nytimes.com design director Khoi Vinh tries to renew his digital subscription to the paper, and it doesn’t go well: “The total customer experience here is haphazard at best, and, at worst — I hate to say this because I am still friendly with many people at the company, but in truth there’s no way around it — it’s insulting.”
The New Yorker has published another recently discovered Shirley Jackson short story “The Man in the Woods,” a fairy tale that takes on some classic mythology. According to her son, it’s one of many new stories found in her archives, and we can expect a new collection next year. “What was surprising to us was not that she was so prolific and had left behind so much unseen work but, rather, the quality of that work,” Laurence Jackson Hyman said.
Those who watch the book deal emails from Publishers Lunch know that Chad Harbach, an editor at n+1, recently sold his first novel, The Art of Fielding, but a Bloomberg article today reveals it went for an eye-popping $650,000. The book centers around baseball at a fictional Wisconsin college, and Bloomberg pegs the deal as “one of the highest prices for a man’s first novel on a topic appealing to a male audience.” Possible buried lede: n+1 compatriots Benjamin Kunkel and Keith Gessen saw their first novels sell 48,000 and 7,000 copies respectively, according to Neilsen BookScan.