Thomas Pynchon defined what he termed “vintage Barthelmismo” as “fictions thoughtfully concocted and comfortably beyond the reach of time.” This moving tribute to Donald Barthelme by Padgett Powell from the forthcoming anthology, A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors, is right in line with Pynchon’s sentiment. Here’s another Barthelme mention from The Millions that you may be interested in.
The political unrest in Moscow is significant and worth covering, but it’s important to verify the facts. Over the weekend, a picture of an enormous crowd went viral, and it was billed as an image of anti-Putin demonstrations. This is not true. The image is actually from a 1991 rally in which protesters called for Mikhail Gorbachev’s resignation. It even appears in this Atlantic article from December, 2011.
Scientists confirmed recently that writers are more likely to struggle with mental illness (sometimes, as recently noted, due to syphilis). Since we’re so used to our alcoholic literary greats, and a smattering of suicidal ones (Plath, Woolf, Thompson, Wallace–and many more), this comes as no great surprise. On a happier note, a new study using fMRIs and MFA students has found that writers show different brain patterns than “normal people” just writing: in fact they resemble “expert” thinking patterns of all professionals doing what they’re best at–musicians, athletes, competitive Scrabble players. I don’t know if I’m happier to learn the fMRIs found no gaping black holes, or that MFAs do in fact teach you something.
“The Colbert Bump didn’t get so much media attention and public support because everyone wanted to talk about me and my novel. People wanted to support book culture, to say that books and writers matter, and that we should be doing everything we can to ensure their continued existence, if not their success. In short, The Book is not dead!” Our own Edan Lepucki and Stephan Eirik Clark talk about their experiences as debut authors on “The Colbert Bump,” and the piece pairs nicely with Edan and Millions staff writer Bill Morris‘s article about the many paths writers follow to publication.
Earlier this month, Jack Daniel’s wrote Patrick Wensink a cease-and-desist order because the cover of Wensink’s latest novel, Broken Piano For President, bears a striking resemblance to the whisky’s logo. Surprisingly, instead of some whisky-soaked tirade, the letter is really, really nice.
Word came out yesterday that Jonathan Galassi and Year in Reading alum Mona Simpson will join the Paris Review editorial board. Former editors both — Galassi edited the magazine’s poetry, while Simpson edited its fiction — the two will join Rose Styron, Jeffrey Eugenides and other notable figures on the board. Simpson also has a new novel coming out in April.