Having kicked off his career with a book of poetry, it’s not surprising that Ben Lerner is interested in the late Johns Hopkins professor Allen Grossman, who theorized that people dislike poetry because poems are — by definition — failures. In a piece for the LRB, he runs through the implications of Grossman’s theory, touching on poets as disparate as Shakespeare and William McGonagall. Pair with Kate Angus on why Americans don’t buy poetry books.
It’s notoriously difficult to figure out how to make a living as a freelance writer. The process forces the writer to learn the finer points of negotiation. At the Ploughshares blog, Steph Auteri writes about the “abstract mathematics” of her freelance career, presenting a list of everything she considers before taking on an assignment. Pair with: our own Nick Ripatrazone on teaching the business of creative writing.
Lucky Alan, which came out in February, is Jonathan Lethem’s first new story collection in more than ten years. He talked with Matt Bell about it in an interview at Salon. “What’s great about short stories is the opportunity to play at reinvention; all those new departures, all those new landings to try to stick,” he says. You could also read our review of his novel Dissident Gardens.
As part of the latest chapter of the McConnaissance, Matthew McConaughey has been tipped to star in The Stand, the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s famous novel. McConnaughey is expected to play Randall Flagg, the malevolent sorcerer and necromancer. In the words of director Josh Boone, who also directed The Fault in our Stars, the movie will be “the Godfather of post-apocalyptic thrillers.” This might be a good time to read our own Lydia Kiesling on growing up with Stephen King.
“The internet has altered our lives in ways television never did or could, but mainstream literary novelists – by which I mean writers who specialize in realistic, character-based narratives – have mostly shied away from writing about this, perhaps hoping that, like TV, it could be safely ignored.” Laura Miller examines how contemporary novels are coming to terms with the internet.
“For a man who is making his living as a critic to write about Scott Fitzgerald without mentioning The Great Gatsby just means that he doesn’t know his business. Many people consider The Great Gatsby one of the few classic American novels. I do myself. Obviously such a judgment is debatable.” The New Republic digs up a tribute by John Dos Passos.