In the nineties, when Jack Livings was teaching English in China, he was gathering material for The Dog, his short story collection that recently won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham prize. In an interview in the WSJ, he talks about his research process, Chinese idioms and Uighur-Han relations. You could also read Casey Walker’s syllabus for modern China. (h/t The Rumpus)
“Raymond Chandler did not invent the private eye — Dashiell Hammett and a few others got there first. But his vision is the one that caught the public eye and stuck most indelibly in the imagination, like — in one of his aromatic metaphors — ‘a tarantula on a slice of angel food.’” On a new biography of the man behind Phillip Marlowe.
“An appreciation of readers as diverse individuals with different tastes should be a basic tenet of criticism. Instead, it’s common for critics to imagine that their aesthetic preferences are the reflections of “readers” or a special class of readers—“serious readers,” “imaginative readers,” “brave readers,” or some other ill-defined category—whose views truly matter.” Lincoln Michel explains why “there’s no such thing as a fake reader” in an essay for Electric Literature.
A new MOOC from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program is scheduled to begin on June 28. “How Writers Write Poetry” is free and open to the public, and it will feature craft talks from poets such as Robert Hass and Kwame Dawes. A fiction-writing course is also scheduled for September. (Related: Read how several Iowa MFA students describe a typical day in the program.)
Amazon, whose tense negotiations with Hachette in the past months have led them to slow ship-times for its books, offered last night “to fund 50% of an author pool—to be allocated by Hachette—to mitigate the impact of this dispute on author royalties, if Hachette funds the other 50%.” Of course, Hachette may find calculating and allocating damages awkward so soon after authors flexed their social-media muscle. Sidebar: Amazon claimed “989 of 1000” items sold would be unaffected by this continuing “business interruption,” which might mean a full 1.1 percent of their business comes from just one mid-sized traditional publisher—heartening news from an unlikely source.
Jenny Diski, a prolific author who’d kept up a serialized diary of living with cancer since 2014, died this morning at the age of 68. Her partner, Ian Patterson, broke the news on Twitter, after which outlets including The Guardian confirmed it. The author had recently published her final book, a memoir.