“The eradication of Terry Pratchett’s unfinished works, the zeros and ones of his hard drive ground into the earth at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, is an imaginative exception to the rule.” The Paris Review questions how we publish an authors posthumous works and whether there’s a better way to do so. Pair with: our 2017 Select Literary Obituaries.
“Once [Jenny] Diski did get going as a writer, she and [Doris] Lessing agreed to a kind of literary nonaggression pact: Lessing would not write about Diski if Diski would not write about Lessing. Even now, I sensed a note of anxiety in Diski’s attitude toward her current project. When I asked her if she had any titles in mind for the finished work, she said: ‘Gratitude.’ Or: ‘Ingratitude.’ I can’t decide which.’”
"This seems to me the much more complex human truth … that for every theorist of the physical, as with every brainless brawler out in front of a tavern, there is a spot in him in which he aspires to the spirit. Always the flickering of the spiritual in which we reach for better. This is the ambition that changes those who aspire to it.” Here is the latest installment in The Literary Hub’s brave, groundbreaking series “Rick Moody: Life Coach." This week finds Moody urging his reader along a path of nonviolence. Last time he took on crying.
“Whatever the [Fulbright] program became,” writes Boston Globe correspondent Sam Lebovic, “it was first conceived as a budget-priced megaphone to transmit American ideas to the world, rather than as a genuine international dialogue.” Indeed, one 1940s newspaper columnist dubbed the program “an ingenious piece of higher mathematics…[that] found a way to finance out of the sale of war junk a worldwide system of American scholarships.”
I thoroughly enjoyed the second installment of Emdashes' Ask the New Yorker Librarians series.Michiko Kakutani hates Jonathan Franzen's new memoir, The Discomfort Zone. Kakutani's wrath filled pen aside, Ed explains why she's right, and I have to agree. I looked back through the archives here and realized I hadn't elaborated on it much beyond writing back in 2003 that "Franzen's non-fiction bugs the heck out of me," but it put me off enough that I avoided reading The Corrections for a long time because of it.Speaking of reviews, it's a good thing Bob Dylan didn't get the Franzen treatment. He tells contactmusic.com that while he doesn't care about music reviews, the reviews for Chronicles Vol. 1 meant a lot to him: "Most people who write about music, they have no idea what if feels like to play it, but, with the book I wrote, I thought, 'The people who are writing reviews of this book, man, they know what the hell they're talking about. They know how to write a book, they know more about it than me.' The reviews of this book, some of 'em almost made me cry - in a good way. I'd never felt that from a music critic, ever."Even though it seems like there's another "book banning" story in the news every week, the AP reports that the 405 challenges reported to the American Library Association last year is the smallest number since they started keeping track in the early 1980s. The challenges have dropped by more than half since the ALA started Banned Books Week to promote free expression. Kudos to the librarians.The second most brilliant magazine in the world (refer to the top item in this list for the first), The Economist has a characteristically well-considered a piece on the newspaper industry's timid efforts to embrace the Internet. Thanks to Millions contributor Andrew for sending this along.
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Lucky Alan, which came out in February, is Jonathan Lethem's first new story collection in more than ten years. He talked with Matt Bell about it in an interview at Salon. "What’s great about short stories is the opportunity to play at reinvention; all those new departures, all those new landings to try to stick," he says. You could also read our review of his novel Dissident Gardens.