“Dear Mrs D, Thanks for your homework. Your idea of writing a Christmas ghost story was a good one, but it’s not really the kind of thing I tend to do — it’s a little bit too genre for my tastes. Try Kevin, who sits next to me. He loves that stuff.” Over at McSweeney’s, Nick Hornby advises his son on excuses for failing to hand in his English homework, excuses which Hornby learned are acceptable during a thirty-year career in journalism, books, and film.
A couple dozen leading literary magazine editors recently found themselves debating "submission fees" in a long, heated, and candid listserv discussion. The complete transcript - names have been changed to protect the innocent - is alternately depressing and heartening. It's a must-read for anyone who publishes in little magazines, or plans to, or is just curious about how editors see themselves. (Update (11/12): Apparently, the literary magazine that published this content on its website had not been authorized to do so by the Council of Literary Magazines and Small Presses, which administers the listserv. The content has since been taken down; we've de-activated the link to reflect that.)
“Between 1990 and 2014, visits to public libraries grew by a whopping 181%. For context, the population of the United States increased by 28% during that period.” Why the library boom? (via The Digital Reader) See also this paean by Daniel Penev in our own pages,“The Library Is Dead. Long Live the Library!”
Measuring a writer's success is tricky. An author might make The New York Times Bestseller List now but only be a footnote in an encyclopedia a century later. At The Guardian, D.J. Taylor wonders what contributes to a writer's posterity and concludes a pushy publisher or sponsor is often a writer's best asset. Pair with: Our essay on how John Updike fans attempt to maintain his reputation.
Some world literature links: Sign and Sight offers the best introduction to Herta Müller I've been able to find...The Complete Review gets the ball rolling on Roberto Bolaño's (very) early novel Monsieur Pain, forthcoming from New Directions...Ingo Schulze, author of the quietly astonishing New Lives and the forthcoming One More Story, talks to The Toronto Star (via)...The NBCC features Yu Hua's Brothers...Claudio Magris is crowned the king of Frankfurt...Maud Newton hails Juan Gabriel Vásquez's "inventive and intricately plotted" The Informers...The Brooklyn Rail and Transcript both offer handsome online digests of short stories from around the world.