Geoff Dyer is fond of taking potshots at literary academics. He devotes considerable time in one of his novels to a professor whose speech at a conference goes off the rails. Which is why it’s odd that, in mid-July, the author showed up at a conference devoted to -- what else? -- his own work. (It's apropos to point out here that our own Mark O'Connell wrote a great essay for Slate about Dyer.)
Don't blame Amazon or Goodreads for authors writing rave reviews of their own work. Writers have been self-promoting since the 1700s, when it was called "puffery." As Nicholas Mason writes for Symposium Magazine, "Nearly every British writer of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries either participated in or benefitted from ginned-up book reviews." The list of puffed up authors includes Mary Wollstonecraft, Walter Scott, and Mary Shelley.
Last week, Year in Reading alum Megan Mayhew Bergman released Almost Famous Women, a new collection of stories. Now, at Bookslut, Rebecca Silber talks with her about the book, which spans nearly a decade of meticulous reading and research. Sample quote: “We need to see women who chase wild dreams and professions as ardently as men.”