“0.5 hrs: Read this week’s New Yorker fiction. 0.7 hrs: Hated on New Yorker writer with her derivative characters & mise-en-scenes. 0.1 hrs: Looked up ‘mise-en-scene’ on Wikipedia. 1.3 hrs: Phone call with writer friend; discussed how much New Yorker fiction sucks. 0.5 hrs: Drafted & emailed query letter to New Yorker (for super postmodern story).” The good people at McSweeney’s imagine an impossibly tedious world where writers and poets bill by the hour.
Slate books and culture columnist Laura Miller looks at what this year’s bestseller list tells us about 2017. One of her conclusions, “2017 was the year that the very concept of a best-seller became even more dubious.” After reading her analysis, check out our Year in Reading lists, whose authors found joy in reading and viewed it as one of the few good things of this year, even if the bestsellers of the year didn’t reflect those feelings.
As Maxwell’s prepares for its last couple days of existence, New York Magazine brought together the place’s original founder, it’s current co-owner, and a huge number of musicians to provide an oral history of Hoboken’s best concert venue. You might recall my piece from last month on the institution’s demise.
Recommended Reading/Listening: Maia Evrona’s translation and recitation of a poem by Abraham Sutzkever, who has been called one of the primary poets of the Holocaust. Gabriel Brownstein’s essay for The Millions on what it means to be a “Jewish writer” is a good complementary piece.
“Check it out for yourself to marvel at the the long history of our language, including but not limited to the origins of the term ‘rock snot.’” The AV Club reports that the word nerds at Merriam-Webster have launched Time Traveler, a new tool that lets users look at the timing around when new words entered the print lexicon. Consider, also, authority and American usage.
“He was known to step out for cigarette breaks onto a narrow ledge beyond the bedroom windows. Attached to the wall next to a door is a brass speaking tube that he used to call down for lunch.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby house on Long Island sold for $3 million earlier this year, but you can still own a piece of him: The Washington Post reports that the four-bedroom Victorian in Minnesota where he penned the manuscript This Side of Paradise is currently listed at $625,000.
“I think if a woman is absolutely happy with herself, that goes a long way in getting others to accept her choices. But it’s hard to be absolutely happy with yourself, whoever you are. I mean, what kind of maniac is that?” What kind of maniac are you? This interview with Mary Gaitskill from Guernica Magazine is fantastic.