“What if, instead of simply critiquing Go Set a Watchman’s failure, we tried to analyze it? The new, older work makes more sense if we read it as an attempt to accomplish two tasks: first, to master—unsuccessfully, it turns out—the smart-magazine style that Harper Lee developed in her student journalism; and second, to write in a genre that often relied on the ironic elisions typical of ‘smart style’: the midcentury social-problem novel.” Tom Perrin on Harper Lee and the social novel. Pair with Michael Bourne’s Millions review.
If you haven’t seen Knopf art director Chip Kidd’s humorous TED Talk yet, you should really get right on that. He makes a good “visual first impression,” discusses the role of a book designer, the smell of an iPad, and does it all while wearing a “skanky mic.”
Celebrate today’s arrival of John Irving’s new novel Last Night in Twisted River by seeing where it falls on Wikipedia’s John Irving recurring themes matrix. Also new today is Paul Auster’s Invisible and a new collection of Paris Review interviews (including, among others, Marilynne Robinson, Haruki Murakami, Philip Roth). Speaking of Roth, his new novel The Humbling came out last week.
“In its clumsy, ad hoc way, Facebook has brought death back into the public sphere in a way death hasn’t been for more than 100 years.” To celebrate Facebook’s 10th birthday, The Missouri Review has unlocked its Alexander Landfair essay on how we deal with death on Facebook. For another look at Facebook, read our essay on how the timeline changes the way we tell stories.
The Guardian has put together an extensive section called “How to Write” with tips from the pros like Robert Harris, Antonia Fraser, and Catherine Tate on writing fiction, poetry, comedy, screenplays, memoirs, journalism, and books for children.David Foster Wallace links: DFW’s Pomona syllabus (via) and “The last days of David Foster Wallace” in Salon (via). Very sad.Adjust your bookmarks. Pinky’s Paperhaus has moved (and gotten a new name).Former Millions blogger Patrick Brown got a mention in an LA Times piece about Herman Wouk a couple weeks back.