This Veterans Day David Abrams encourages authors and others in the media to move beyond the one-dimensional portrait of veterans or those currently serving in the military. “Far too often, those who serve are a collection of clichés from the far ends of the spectrum: either clean-cut, impossibly perfect heroes or PTSD-addled warriors ready to erupt in spree-shooting rage. The regular working class in camouflage are virtually invisible.” A necessary reminder for authors and readers.
Over at ZYZZYVA, Christian Kiefer talks to playwright Octavio Solis and novelist Scott Hutchins about the craft of writing and the difference between writing plays and writing novels. “It takes a huge amount of hard labor, man, to harness the forces that we are using to make our stories. They may emerge whole cloth out of our need to know how we operate as humans, but they’re often clumsy unfinished beasts.” Kiefer’s new novel, The Animals, is one of the most anticipated books of 2015.
Is all publicity good publicity? Are all reviews—even bad ones—good for books? The answer, according to a new study [pdf] by the journal Marketing Science, depends on whether the writer is well known or unknown. The study examined the impact of a New York Times review on the sales of more than 200 hardcover titles. For books by established writers, a negative review led to a 15% decrease in sales. For unknown authors, a negative review increased sales by a healthy 45%.
“Like reading, love works in roughly the same way every time, but the details of any given case are irreducibly particular, and it’s in the details that everything happens.” Lidija Haas on Elif Batuman’s debut novel, The Idiot. (You could also read our review by Virginia Marshall.)
Portland-based Publication Studio is hosting a whirlwind series of events in New York next week. They kick off the weekend with an evening mixer at the Museum of Modern Art on Thursday, April 19; continue with a conversation between landscape architect Diana Balmori and PS co-founder Matthew Stadler at Printed Matter, on Friday, April 20th; and end with a lavish sit-down dinner, cooked by Ben Walmer of the Highlands Dinner Club in the Harlem speakeasy where HDC got its start, on Saturday, April 21.
The Allen Ginsberg Estate supports a regularly updated blog called The Allen Ginsberg Project. I recommend reading it. Here’s a gem of a conversation between the late poet and a student over those delicious, sweet and cold plums in William Carlos Williams’s “This is Just to Say.”