At The End of the World Review, Lauren Oyler talks about her career as a critic and writer, why literary fiction needs protecting, and the differences between literary culture in America and Europe. “It is certainly valuable to see people living and writing in other ways. To a certain extent in Europe, you’re more likely to be around people who have been encouraged to read a lot more serious literature and philosophy, and they aren’t just wealthy or upper-class people,” she says. “Meanwhile, in the United States you can go through an entire private-school-to-Ivy-League education and still be stupid. There are many very smart Americans, but they aren’t being served by our publishing industry or media or our ‘literary culture.’ I think many people are very alienated by the way things work here—enough people to make a bestseller!—not because it’s inaccessible, but because it’s patronizing. You can find a lot of great reading through weird avenues, but it would be nice if you didn’t have to look very hard.” Oyler’s debut novel, Fake Accounts, will be published in February.
Granta posts Salman Rushdie’s 1984 essay ‘Outside the Whale’ – a response to an essay by George Orwell about the political role of the artist: “If writers leave the business of making pictures of the world to politicians, it will be one of history’s great and most abject abdications.”
“‘There is almost no work, within the vast range of literature and science,’ [Thomas Jefferson] wrote in an 1874 report, ‘which may not at some time prove useful to the legislature of a great nation.’ Thus the Library Of Congress’s mandate expanded: it would acquire anything and everything of importance … By the late 19th century, the LOC had become a kind of national brain trust, a heritage of information that aspired to timelessness.” This piece on the Library of Congress and its internet progress (or lack thereof) is fascinating and thorough. Go and spend some time with the digital archive, there are only around seven million gigabytes of information for you to thumb through.
New York Review of Books Classics is having its annual Summer Sale, and some of the bundles this year are particularly enticing. For instance, you can grab perennial Millions favorite (and current international bestseller) Stoner as part of a bundle that also includes Renata Adler’s Speedboat. The publishers are also offering John Horne Burns’s lost masterpiece, The Gallery, as part of a collection of World War II novels. You may recall David Margolick’s great profile of Burns from the New York Times Magazine last month.
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.
“Because I am a writer, people sometimes ask me how ebooks have changed the literary landscape. The short answer, for me, is that I have developed a compulsion to drunk-dial Agatha Christie several times a week.” Elif Batuman on buying (and reading) while intoxicated, at Guardian.