“On closer inspection, however, the book comes off as something more complicated than a flowering of one eccentric and filthy man’s erotic imagination. Its elaborate descriptions of pleasure given and taken start to seem like scrims for a moral argument about what sorts of sexual behaviors should be ‘forbid’ and which should be encouraged—an argument refined in prison by an author deeply occupied with thoughts of punishment, dissipation, and sin.” On John Cleland’s (very erotic) novel Fanny Hill and the importance of its having been written in prison.
Recommended Reading: Tyler Stoddard Smith’s satirical essay on the new literary movement “The Real Newism” at Hobart. “Did Virgil go to hell? No. Did Virginia Woolf go to Disney World? No, and it turns out that Orlando isn’t a place, but a dude. And did Truman Capote ever have breakfast at Tiffany’s? Yes, but the eggs Benedict was cold and the bloody marys were ‘bullshit.'”
The novelist Julie Schumacher wrote her latest, Dear Committee Members, entirely in the form of letters of recommendation. The format allowed her to illustrate the travails of a creative writing professor through a medium often ignored in fiction. At The Awl, Jessica Gross and Merve Emre talk about the novel. Pair with: Cathy Day on academia’s novel crisis.
Last week, I directed you to Catie Disabato’s Thick Skin interview at 0s&1s. This week, Year in Reading alum Laura van den Berg joins them for the latest installment of the series, in which authors address their critics. We also recently interviewed van den Berg following the release of her first novel, Find Me.
“What’s it like to write a novel in prison?” An interview with Daniel Genis addressing this and similar questions is online at The Airship. For more writing about and after prison, be sure to check out our own interview with Matthew Parker, author of Larceny in My Blood:A Memoir of Heroin, Handcuffs, and Higher Education.
Argentina may be offering a $940/month pension plan for writers. Eligibility requirements include 20 years of work in “literary creation” and five published works with ISBN numbers. This bill was proposed amidst the festivities of the Buenos Aires International Book Expo, one of the biggest book expos in the world.
Recommended Reading: “Ursula’s Curse,” an excerpt from a forthcoming Eugene Lim novel. The piece’s protagonist seems less concerned with the end of his life (and maybe the human race) than he is with remembering an artist who tried to reach “a limit to the art market’s baseness.”