“In re-organizing the priorities of book publishing—by inventing new models rather than trying to repeat past success, by valuing ingenuity over magnitude, by thinking of sales as a way to make great books possible rather than the point—indie presses aren’t just becoming the places where the best books are published; they’re already there.” Over at The Atlantic, Nathan Scott McNamara writes on why American publishing needs indie presses. For more of his writing, check out his essay on Denis Johnson for The Millions.
University Of Chicago Press has come out with a new edition of a somewhat forgotten classic in the campus novel genre. Randall Jarrell was a National Book Award-winning poet who wrote only one novel, Pictures from an Institution, about the fictional Benton College. The Kenyon Review published the opening of the novel in its Winter 1953 issue. It begins: “Half the campus was designed by Bottom the Weaver, half by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Benton had been endowed with one to begin with, and had smiled and sweated and spoken for the other.”
Max Linsky interviewed Riddle of the Labyrinth author Margalit Fox about the other career she’s had for eight years: obituary writing. Fox remarks on how obituaries have grown from being “the bastard stepchild of American journalism” into “the best gig” in the entire industry. Here’s one of my favorite Fox obituaries, by the way.
This month, a Brentwood School archivist unearthed a two-page poem entitled “A Dissertation on the task of writing a poem on a candle and an account of some of the difficulties thereto pertaining.” The kicker? It was written by a 17-year-old Douglas Adams, nine years before he published The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
As literary apprenticeships go, it’s hard to beat a chance to live with Doris Lessing. In 1963, not long after the death of Sylvia Plath, Jenny Diski moved in with the future Nobel laureate, who lived just north of King’s Cross in London at the time. In the LRB, Diski recounts her friendship with the novelist.