George Packer at Lapham’s Quarterly writes of meeting a young Burmese reader of Charles Dickens: “‘All of those characters are me,’ [he] explained. ‘Neither a British nor American young man living in the twenty-first century can understand a Dickens as well as I can…I am more equipped to understand Dickens than modern novels. I don’t know what is air conditioning, what is subway, what is fingerprint exam.’” (via Book Bench)
This week Margaret Atwood tweeted a photo of her and Alice Munro drinking champagne in a “secret lair.” There’s no denying it — technology has changed the way we tell stories. Atwood and 16 other writers, from Victor LaValle to Lee Child, discussed how technology influences their work in The New York Times. “There’s nothing worse for plots than cellphones. Once your characters have one, there’s no reason for them to get lost or stranded,” Rainbow Rowell said.
“In fact, I think Plath has turned out to be a much better poet than Hughes ever was. Of course he won all the prizes, and his name is on the stones in Poet’s Corner and OK, he’s pretty good, but not that good, whereas she gets better and better.” Granta interviews the critic Al Alvarez, onetime friend of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
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.”