“If you ask around, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a really bad novel easily enough. I mean a novel by someone who has spent isolated years writing a book they are convinced is a great work of literature. And when you’re reading it you’ll know it’s bad, and you’ll know what bad truly is.” What makes bad writing so bad? Toby Litt at The Guardian investigates.
"One thing that could have made this story end differently is if the United States had a significant cultural policy. We have a trade policy – we protect industries we value – and we have an anti-trust policy designed to protect consumers. We have arts and humanities endowments that assist institutions. But our cultural policy is mostly to let culture fend for itself in the open market. It works great, but sometimes it doesn’t." Salon looks at what Amazon, the Penguin-Random House merger, and the imposition of capitalism to culture might mean for literature at large.
F. Scott Fitzgerald called himself "a moralist at heart," which might be why Kathryn Schulz finds The Great Gatsby to be "aesthetically overrated, psychologically vacant, and morally complacent."
Behold the polymathic mind of Terry Castle, professor, literary essayist, and collage artist. At Fevered Brain Productions, her art blog, see digitally alter photos and collages like "Warthog Proffering Rootbeer," "She Polarizes People," "Collage Dramas", and "Kind Hearts and Coronets." And from the LRB archives, check out her controversial quasi-eulogy for Susan Sontag, her reviews (for example, Always the Bridesmaid on Yopie Prins' Victorian Sappho), and her essays (Travels With My Mom). The Professor, Castle's forthcoming book of essays, will be published by HarperCollins in January.
What’s the best book to introduce someone to the late Terry Pratchett? The Color of Magic, his first Discworld novel, is an intuitive choice, but it may not be the right one. In The Guardian, Sam Jordison kicks off a debate about the ideal entree to Pratchett’s work. You could also read our tribute to the author.