Lolita was panned as “dull, dull, dull,” while Collected Poems by W.B. Yeats was called “as discouraging as a breakfast of cold porridge.” Read some of the harshest New York Times book reviews of literary classics. Of Ulysses, the reviewer declares: “The average intelligent reader will glean little or nothing from it…save bewilderment and a sense of disgust.” Ouch.
Most of the time, when somebody insults a writer on Twitter, the insult disappears into the cyberspace ether. However, as with any rule, there are always exceptions, and one is when you trash Joyce Carol Oates and then thank her for inventing a breakfast food.
A white male poet recently revealed his controversial strategy of using an Asian pseudonym to place his poems, which were eventually selected for inclusion in the Best American Poetry anthology for 2015. Brian Spears writes for The Rumpus about the complications of diversity in publishing, Affirmative Action, and the ethics of poetry submission systems.
Last week, JK Rowling announced that, midway through writing the Harry Potter series, she nearly killed off Ron Weasley “out of spite.” Ron isn’t the first supporting character to narrowly avoid death in an author’s rough draft. The Awl illustrates some of literature’s other close calls with death.