Is the system rigged? Aaron Bady at The New Inquiry discusses the inherent evil of the canon and the general problem with lists. For more on why we care about literary awards in the first place, here is Mark O’Connell from The Millions.
Seeing as yesterday was Donald Barthelme’s birthday, it’s as good a time as any to remember the short fiction icon. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova reads Barthelme’s essay “Not-Knowing,” which you can find in the author’s collection of essays and interviews. Sample quote: “Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.”
“The main problem with Homeland is not even the writers taking Adderall or whatever they did in the second season that eliminated suspense and brought instead an unhinged intensity of movement that barely allowed space and time enough for the cast members to occupy their roles. The main problem with the show is a kind of elephant in the room.” Lorrie Moore explains her gripe about the celebrated series.
What is the function of the art critic, anyway? According to Barry Schwabsky at The Nation, it is not “making or breaking” an artist, but rather “opening up perspectives without … belaboring them.” For the critically minded among you, here’s a Millions review of A.O. Scott’s new book Better Living Through Criticism.
Late November brings work of another favorite Madrileño to the forefront. The final book of Javier Marías‘s Your Face Tomorrow trilogy, Poison, Shadow, and Farewell, will be published at the end of the month by New Directions. The incomparable Marias will make two New York appearances, a reading at the 92nd St Y (with Paul Auster) and a conversation with Paul Holdengräber at the New York Public Library.