Recommended Reading: Zoë Heller and Francine Prose discuss a writer’s moral obligation and responsibility to art.
Eleanor Catton just became the youngest person ever to win a Man Booker, but we were fans of her long before. Our own Emily St. John Mandel included Catton’s debut novel The Rehearsal on her list of disorienting reads. Paul Murray also recommended the book on his 2012 Year in Reading.
What if a treasure hunt in a book crossed over into the real world? Author Kit Williams buried a prize and left clues to its location in his novel, Masquerade. The search drove England crazy. Our own Hannah Gersen maps the imaginary in her essay about how authors organize their manuscripts.
The New York Times is reporting that the poet John Ashbery has died. A major figure in American letters, Ashbery won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in a single year for his book Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. The full Times obituary has more.
“Should we understand a photographic document as being first and foremost an artifact of memory, a light-written ghost? Or is it more important to stress its status as a material thing created from pigment, silver, emulsion, paper, plastic, glass, silicon sensors, pulses of electricity? Or is the photograph primarily an opportunity to take or make, an arena for a special type of action?” On Polaroids, instantaneous photography, and memory over at The Nation.
Eric Harvey presents The Social History of the MP3 at Pitchfork: “So omnipresent have these discussions become, in fact, that it’s possible the past 10 years could become the first decade of pop music to be remembered by history for its musical technology rather than the actual music itself.”
“There’s this sense of guilt that my writing career is going well because black people are being killed. I’ve reached a point where I don’t know if I have anything new to say. It’s the same narrative over and over.” Debut novelist Brit Bennett gets profiled for The New York Times about The Mothers, which we included in the list of October book releases we’re most excited about.