“Could I write a novel about fugues in the form of a fugue?” Margot Singer wonders in The Paris Review, remembering the process of writing her first novel and considering other authors – Joyce, Nabokov, Woolf – who have tried to compose words musically. See also: our own Jacob Lambert on whether to write with background music on.
“The average American three-year-old can recognize 100 brands,” says prominent advertising and marketing guru Martin Lindstrom. Are we being Brandwashed? For The New York Times, Steven Heller tracks the history of corporate symbols and branding.
Wole Soyinka does not approve of the push for Chinua Achebe to be awarded a posthumous Nobel Prize for Literature, and he doesn’t appreciate fan letters asking for his support to that end. “How did creative valuation descend to such banality?” Soyinka remarks in an interview with SaharaReporters. “Do these people know what they’re doing – they are inscribing Chinua’s epitaph in the negative mode of thwarted expectations. I find that disgusting.”
Apropos of our recent essay by a student hiding out in a bookstore with spotty Wi-Fi to avoid reading online, The Rumpus interviewed a bookstore and coffeeshop owner who has taken the bold step of making his establishment a WiFi-free zone. “I’ve observed and been told many times about how the availability of Wi-Fi creates a space where people are wrapped up in their own, solitary world and not interacting with each other.”
The 2010 National Book Awards were announced this evening. In fiction, Jaimy Gordon won for The Lord of Misrule; in nonfiction, Patti Smith won for Just Kids; in poetry, Terrance Hayes won for Lighthead; and for young people’s literature, Kathryn Erskine won for Mockingbird.
BuzzFeed is launching an Emerging Writer’s Fellowship, complete with $12,000 stipend, and Saeed Jones, whose poetry collection Prelude to Bruise was released last year, will be their new Literary Editor. Electric Literature talked to Jones about digital journalism, the need for diversity in writing and publishing, and what he’s looking for in Fellowship applicants.
Graywolf Press – the publisher behind Citizen, The Empathy Exams, The Argonauts, and On Immunity: An Inoculation – has built a reputation as “a scrappy little press that harnessed and to some extent generated a revolution in nonfiction, turning the previously unprepossessing genre of the ‘lyric essay’ into a major cultural force.” Over at Vulture, Boris Kachka writes about the history of one of the nation’s leading independent literary publishers.
Graduation season is upon us, and college students across the nation are listening to esteemed commencement speakers. Some get treated to the likes of Bill Watterson, Jon Stewart, or Barbara Kingsolver. (I got to listen to The Rock.) In the thrill of the moment, it feels like it hardly matters who’s at the podium. One wonders if audiences really grasp the material in these speeches right away, or if the speaker’s words only become clear later on. Inspired by David Foster Wallace’s iconic Kenyon address in 2005, our own Kevin Hartnett tried to find out.