Recommended Reading: Noy Holland on writing fiction, a form rooted in deft timing, accidents, and revelations.
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.
Jacob Silverman tackles the niceness epidemic besieging literary criticism at the moment. Where have the hatchet jobs gone? Is social media’s “communalism” robbing critics of their fangs? Each time a publication refuses to print a negative review, the act amounts to “a victory for a publicist, but not for readers,” he writes. (Just a few notes: Silverman’s piece is based on a blog post he wrote recently; Emma Straub has responded on her own blog; and, for what it’s worth, our own Michael Bourne’s recent review of Richard Ford’s Canada was pretty toothy.)
There was an interesting piece on the intangible economics of fine art in this weekend’s NYT Magazine that explains the difference between the markets for art and other luxury goods (like gold and property): “Because the art market isn’t regulated like financial securities, insider dealing is generally not illegal.”
“The lie I told most often in my twenties during the Reagan era was that I liked other people’s children although I didn’t intend to have my own.” For The Rumpus, Kyoko Mori writes an essay on the choice to raise animals instead of children. Pair with: an essay on the complexities of motherhood.
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.