Sean Manning of the Talking Covers blog spoke with a bunch of authors, editors and artists to take a long, close look at the work of Lorraine Louie, the designer “who came up with the uniform, De Stijl layout” of the inimitable Vintage Contemporaries. And while on the topic of book covers, check out Tammy Fortin’s “New Covers for Old Classics” series she put together for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
“Maybe our anointed literary books just have to be earnest ones because earnest ones showcase that soupçon of intelligence. Maybe humor isn’t felt to indicate a genuine commitment to looking smart.” Year in Reading alum Lydia Millet talks with Jenny Offill about humor writing, what books are “anointed” as modern classics, and Millet’s new book, Mermaids in Paradise.
Electric Literature—first established as a cross-platform digital publisher, but best known for its popular “Recommended Reading” tumblog—has just relaunched itself as a literary advocate built around a strong website and social channels. C0-founder Andy Hunter tells the Washington Post, “Posting a cool photo on social media gets a much greater response than text alone, even in our audience of book lovers. While at first that might seem at odds with literary content, we’ve always felt that changes in the way we communicate create opportunities to reach more people.”
The Rona Jaffe Foundation has announced the six recipients of the 2015 Rona Jaffe Writers’ Awards, which are given annually to emerging women writers. This year’s winners are Millions contributor Meehan Crist for nonfiction, Vanessa Hua for fiction, Ashley M. Jones for poetry, Britteney Black Rose Kapri for poetry, Amanda Rea for fiction, and Natalie Haney Tilghman for fiction. Past award winners include Eula Biss, Lan Samantha Chang, Rivka Galchen, Rebecca Lee, ZZ Packer, and Tracy K. Smith.
One consequence of creating a beloved show is that you’ve got to deal with superficial paeans to it. David Simon has to know this, but he still seems cranky in this interview. Of course I’m not saying he can’t be chagrined by Grantland or Vulture’s recent TV brackets (which Simon singled out in subsequent remarks), but when he says he’s “it’s wearying” for people “to be picking [The Wire] apart now like it’s a deck of cards or like they were there the whole time or they understood it the whole time,” it’s a bit harder to take his side, and you feel like he hasn’t watched Erlend Lavik’s sophisticated and thorough video essay about The Wire‘s visual style. Surely analyses like this (or Žižek‘s, which we’ve mentioned before) deserve due credit.
In an illuminating interview for Slate, James Wood revises his opinion on David Foster Wallace and discusses how aging can change critics. As he puts it, “At exactly the moment that I wanted really to write, and started writing poems and then trying to write bad fiction, I was reading with a view to learning stuff. I was reading poetry. How did Auden do his stanza forms? And I was trying to copy those. What’s a successful poem, what’s an unsuccessful poem? […] What’s a good sentence? I don’t think I’ve changed. I am as sincerely interested in novels that fail as I am in novels that succeed. I just want to work them out. It’s a pleasure for me actually.” Top it off with Jonathan Russell Clark’s essay on Wood’s The Nearest Thing to Life.