"An appeal for the revival of the negative book review, then, is a remonstration against forced and foppish praise, where everything is good and so nothing at all is good." In The Baffler, Rafia Zakaria writes in praise of negative book reviews and decries the "enfeebling of literary criticism." From our archives: our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about bad book reviews.
What does it mean to be cool? According to scholar Joel Dinerstein, it means a person who conveys “relaxed intensity.” Using this definition, Dinerstein and Frank Goodyear III curated a photography exhibition of "American Cool" at National Portrait Gallery. The portraits feature everyone from Joan Didion to David Byrne.
Most writers, unless they’re lucky enough to have an ideal place in which to work, make do with the best space available. For Colum McCann’s father, the shed in his backyard, which “always smelled damp inside, as if the rain rose up out of the carpet,” sufficed for the fiction he wrote after coming home from work. At Page-Turner, the National Book Award winner and Year in Reading alum remembers his father’s retreat.
“Will excessive drinking unleash your creative energy? Who can say?” Over at The Toast, intrepid cataloger Ren Arcamone has compiled a list of things you could be doing instead of writing your thesis. Go read it instead of writing your thesis. Continue the stay of essay execution and check out Mallory Ortberg’s hilarious (and helpful) guide to some common signs that you might be dying in a Victorian novel.
Here are a couple more pieces on Bill Keller's departure as executive editor of The New York Times. An interview with Esquire conducted not long before his announcement: "Newspaper publishers have done more to kill newspapers than any innovative form of media." And New York describes how Keller's recent cranky columns about new vs. old media ticked off the newsroom.