Francois Vincent of McSweeney’s has published his hilarious take on asking for directions in short stories. Pair with this list of forty-five of The Millions’s favorite short story collections of all time.
“If you’re doing an assignment for some Luddite professor who insists on originality – and probably uses typewriter ribbon – keep in mind that I only offer phrases from hard-to-trace sources. Just today I was slipped some primo stuff from an English teacher in Simonton, Iowa who’s been advising the high school literary magazine for decades. This woman, her voice is as smooth as creamed corn.” Confessions of a metaphor merchant.
Sarah Fay, associate editor of The Paris Review, has a piece in The Atlantic on the digitization of book reviewing, framed beautifully by references to George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Confessions of a Book Reviewer.” She praises Bookslut, Nancy Pearl, Goodreads, and The Los Angeles Review of Books for their collective skills of recommendation, reviewing, and New Criticism. I’d add The Quarterly Conversation, The Rumpus, The New Inquiry, The Morning News (for their annual Tournament of Books feature), and of course, The Millions.
Are people losing interest in fiction that “offers more questions than answers?” In her book Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel, Jane Smiley suggested that modern readers have little taste for uncertainty. At The Rumpus, Rob Roberge asks how much this contributes to popular disinterest in literature.
Whatever your thoughts on Will Self’s claim that the novel as we know it is dead, it’s important to keep in mind, as Daniel D’Addario helpfully illustrates, that we’ve heard this claim before. At Salon, he goes all the way back to 1902 to trace the legacy of a long-held fear.