Has Joan Didion become “the Ultimate Literary Celebrity“? In an article for the New Republic Laura Marsh says “yes,” and then explains how that happened. Marsh’s efforts pair well with Franklin Strong‘s recent Millions essay on “The Manliness of Joan Didion,” Joan Didion being a literary figure who easily adapts to any description.
You may have heard that Pulitzer laureate Oscar Hijuelos passed away on Sunday at the age of 62. Hijuelos, who won the prize in 1990 for his novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, broke ground as the first Latino author to take home the prestigious award. On NPR, David Greene talks with Columbia professor Gustavo Perez Firmat about the author’s legacy. (Related: Thea Lim on people of color and American writing.)
Cat Marnell and Alana Massey both have new books out, and they are, in their own ways, variants on the genre of “confessional” writing. In an essay for Slate, Katy Waldman unpacks their essential appeal and their arguments, describing how each goes about the task of reinventing the concept of the memoir. You could also read our interview with Massey.
We get it, you’re into finance — but what can you tell me about lit crit? This piece from The Atlantic purports to show how literary theory has its place in the world of finance: “The act of imagining the future in finance goes by other names—’vision’ and ‘invention’ are among the more respectable euphemisms—in order to disguise the presence of the non-rational in financial activity. But rarely do scholars explore the role of imagination in economic life systematically. In a realm dominated by economic and financial scholarship that aspires to be ‘scientific,’ fantasy and creativity in envisioning the future are often ignored; they don’t fit well into a model of research whose aim is to reduce unknowns and to eliminate surprises as much as possible.”
“Since scientific knowledge is still growing by a factor of ten every 50 years, it should not be surprising that lots of facts people learned in school and universities have been overturned and are now out of date,” writes Ronald Bailey in his review of Samuel Arbesman’s The Half-life of Facts.
“The books that I remember best are the ones I stole in Mexico City, between the ages of sixteen and nineteen, and the ones I bought in Chile when I was twenty, during the first few months of the coup.” The New York Review of Books Blog posts an essay by — you guessed it — Roberto Bolaño.