Links: Comment Thread

“Book reviews as extensions of the book: a review = a room with a door leading to the book. Perhaps some book reviews have multiple doors, one leading to the book, another leading to another review or to an interview with the author, a blog post about the book, an advertisement on a website or in a magazine, a phone conversation, a gchat, a video. The point is their interconnectivity.”

Andrew Seal adds his thoughts on Benjamin Kunkel‘s essay on the past decade in American fiction. Seal calls out a few blind spots in Kunkel’s argument, particularly the growing “internationalism or transnationalism of the American novel.”

Jane Smiley: “I know there are writers who don’t find their work easy or pleasant, but I do.”

Wendy Lesser, who’s written an excellent book on rereading, on rereading The Bostonians.

Lydia Davis is working on a new collection of stories, inspired in part by her recent work translating Madame Bovary.

What Mark Twain ate in the Northwest.

The World Socialist Web Site posits that Tobias Wolff‘s stories admirably connect personal lives and the larger social degradations of the Cold War era—unlike, I suppose, dirty realists and other contemporary American fiction writers, who just make up characters who get drunk and fight in motels.

Couples is a funny thing, a bodice-ripper with a sense of entitlement.”

Benjamin Percy hasn’t been to central Oregon since he graduated from high school there in 1997, but he’s committed to setting his fiction there.

Was Herman Melville‘s poem “Monody” an elegy for Nathaniel Hawthorne or not?

How giving away 150,000 copies of The Great Gatsby to soldiers during World War II may have cemented its reputation. (via)

Rosencrans Baldwin on his freelance writing gig for an upscale lifestyle magazine: “I did a back page humor column, and they wanted ‘luxury humor.’ I’m like, ‘What is luxury humor?’ They said, you know, jokes about chateaus and wineries and Greek islands. But it paid really well. I just thought: If I have to make knock-knock jokes about Merlot, I can do that.”

3 responses to “Links: Comment Thread

  1. Seal’s dead on here. You can’t have a discussion about the state of the American novel in the last decade without bringing up post-ironic, post-McSweeney’s satire. Neither you nor Kunkel have thought to consider Lydia Millet, Katherine Weber, Percival Everett, Sam Lipsyte, Ken Kalfus, James Hynes, George Saunders, or Gary Shteyngart in your haughty pronouncements. Which is both weird and woefully deficient. (At least Kunkel considered Gibson, offering a backhanded acknowledgment — perhaps even a nod to Fiedler’s recognition of such writers as Philip Jose Farmer — of steampunk and New Weird with his “novels set in the futuristic present” tag.) It seems to me quite pointless and superficial to catch such a wide net, claiming knowledge of an eclectic ecosystem based on such a slim and homogenized catch.

    And while I’m not exactly Lev Grossman’s biggest fan (mostly because the dude needs to lighten up), if some of you novel-wrangling elitists want to identify crude publicists, you might want to look in the mirror. For that matter, surely J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and Stieg Larsson are worth considering — if only because considering what regular people read is just as important in determining the novel’s trajectory as anything else. Such obvious oversights are more snobbish than mentioning what Kunkel bemoans as “the spread of the middlebrow.”

    • I’ve heard from a lot of people that Ed Champion is an asshole. He’s the kind of guy who makes haughty pronouncements while accusing others of making haughty pronouncements, but fails to see the irony in that fact.

  2. Sex is beside the point. The Melville piece is interesting: don’t underestimate how crucial it would have been to poor Melville to have found a human being on earth who understood what he was trying to do.

    Those humans are as rare as lightning-strikes.

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