“Our literary culture has distended and warped by focusing so much power in a singular place, by crowding the gatekeepers into a small ditch of commerce. A review in the Times trumps everything else. You can’t tell me that this doesn’t affect what is, finally, bound into books, marketed, and sold. Which designates what can be said and how one says it. Why do we cede American letters to a handful of corporations that exist on a single concrete patch?” This piece by Matthew Neill Null at The Literary Hub raises a lot of extremely important questions about what gets published and why.
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.)
“But even among its peers, Louie is an outlier. It is a show that, more than any other, both caters to this new kind of audience — the Laptop Loners — and has, as its creator, a member of the club…we are living in the iGeneration, in which the self is projected back toward the world via social media. But whereas many Americans weave their public personas from curated chains of cultural signifiers — think of the popular web platform tumblr, where users ‘express themselves’ by posting digital reproductions of existing images — [Louis] C.K. aims for something more penetrating, a filmic representation of his own psyche,” claims the Los Angeles Review of Books.
“Three weeks before she died on July 25, 2012, Marcia (Marty) Brown Stern ’54 sent me a registered letter, which began, ‘What is enclosed may astonish you.’ Indeed it did. The envelope included a draft of ‘marcia,’ an unpublished poem that Sylvia Plath ’55 wrote about their sophomore year together at Smith College in 1951.”
Sad that Breaking Bad is over? Bryan Cranston might have a new TV show on the way, and it was inspired by The Dangerous Book for Boys, he said in an interview for The New York Times “By the Book” series. While you wait, check out our article on what to read after you’ve finished watching Walter White’s saga.