Is readability a myth? In an article for The Atlantic Noah Berlatsky argues that there are no “easy” or “difficult” books, or rather that these are relative terms – a book that gives one person fits may be light reading for someone else. His argument pairs interestingly with our own Emily Colette Wilkinson‘s “Difficult Books” series.
“A book critic working today must contend with a world in which more diverse voices are heard and the traditional gatekeepers have less power to enforce conformity.” LitHub interviewed Kate Tuttle, the president of the National Book Critics Circle, about literary criticism. Read our own Emily St. John Mandel on bad reviews.
“Keep a close eye on your Twitter account. Important things may be said there that you will be expected to weigh in on, and if you don’t, everyone will wonder if you fell asleep in the bathroom stall of the bar last night and are still there, head sunken low next to the toilet, one lost contact lens embedded somewhere in the floor grime. Make sure they know you’re not; that was the you of 100 million years ago.” Jen Doll on writing and not-writing.
Disappointed by how few of the dozens of official book cover designs of Nabokov’s Lolita “correspond thematically to the novel,” blog Venus febriculosa is holding a book cover design contest (pdf) to create a new cover for Lolita and is awarding a $350 prize. (Thx, John)
Zachary Lazar talks to Mary Jo Bang about her radical translation of Dante’s Inferno: in an attempt to render the shock Dante caused by writing in conversational Italian rather than the conventional Latin, Bang translated Dante’s text in modern-day English adorned with references to American pop culture. A sample of the text is available online.
In his new book, one of three coming out now or soon, Australian poet Clive James assembles his decades of knowledge into a series of mini-essays, many of which originally appeared in Poetry magazine. At Slate, Katy Waldman reads the collection, explaining why it gave her the urge to quote James ad infinitum. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on the poet’s book Cultural Amnesia.