“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.
Gigantic’s going intergalactic with Gigantic Worlds, the lit journal’s first venture into book territory, in the form of a sci-fi flash fiction anthology. Authors include Jonathan Lethem, Lynne Tillman, Ed Park, Grace Krilanovich—and potentially you. Gigantic is currently seeking funding for their mission: the more money they raise, the nicer the rocket ship (or something like that).
“Language on a daily basis is being recycled. Our students are learning the language of the old and new masters; they are taking them in, mixing their words with the language they know, creating something new. Yet something there remains. Something familiar. Something like a forgotten first kiss. Like a well-known song sung in a different language.” Ira Sukrungruang on “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Deep Reading and Mimicry, With an Ending that Totally Plagiarizes Wallace Stevens.” After all, who doesn’t want to plagiarize Wallace Stevens?
Fifty years ago, Frank O’Hara released Lunch Poems, a collection of remarkably informal poetry that rebuked the more academic verse of his day. As a tribute, Dwight Garner writes about the importance of the book in the Times, arguing that O’Hara’s grasp of the zeitgeist is the reason he appeared on Mad Men. For more on the poet’s legacy, take a look at Christopher Richards on O’Hara’s lessons for being gay.
Nicole Chung interviews Amy Tan about her new memoir Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir, one of the highlights is when Tan ponders being one of the ‘first’ authors that people name/read when they think of Asian-American literature. “But when [“The Joy Luck Club”] came out, it did feel like there were many expectations from all areas — not just in the Asian American community, but in Asian culture itself, and in any ethnic studies community. There were people who said ‘At last!’ and there were people who said ‘How dare she?’ […] I wanted to say: I’m not writing sociology, it just so happens this is what happened in my own family.”
At Condalmo, Matthew Tiffany‘s review of David Lipsky’s new book, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace: “You can’t go more than two or three pages without Lipsky’s shadow falling over the text. And you aren’t reading this book for the Lipsky, are you? The biggest problem here is that, like it or not, his fingerprints are all over it. And I didn’t like it.”