Roundup: Frome Here to Eternity

Continuing our ad hoc Wharton Week here: studiously monochromatic Magnetic Fields frontman Stephin Merritt made a point of reading Edith Frome annually because “it expresses everything about how horrible New England is.” (via)

Jim Shepard‘s 2007 collection, Like You’d Understand, Anyway, has won the Story Prize.

Interested in reading a novel that’s stuffed with mouse-over ads because the authors have put every word up for sale? Your ship has just come in.

Hillary Jordan‘s Mudbound gets the big push in USA Today.

Charles Bock‘s Beautiful Children gets the big push from its publisher, Random House, which has made the novel free to download as a PDF until Friday at midnight. The Millions rings up publicist Jynne Martin for details. “If it’s good enough for Radiohead it’s good enough for us!” Martin exclaims. Hang on: It was good enough for Radiohead because the band has alternate revenue streams (back catalog, touring) and a fan base willing to kick in a few bucks out of sheer loyalty, two things a debut novelist has in short supply. Even so, this is probably a winner, thanks to the tight download window and the PDF format, which is clunky–you can’t carry it around with you unless you print out the pages (which is slow with PDFs). Anybody who’s seduced by the book online will likely drop money to own it.

2 responses to “Roundup: Frome Here to Eternity

  1. I thought you were going to write about James Jones when I read the headline… but a mention of Wharton is good by me, too… I have to admit that short story prizes kind of have me down now, esp after Gina Frangello’s insights into short story writing as a career. Seems to be not much of a point, if you need to support yourself. I don’t think the short story has even been in so much trouble, despite good writers like Jim Shepard working in the form. I wonder what he thinks about it.

  2. Mark Athitakis

    Point taken, I don’t think there was ever some magical era where fiction writers were amply rewarded financially for their labor, though it is true that magazines don’t feature as much short fiction these days. Writing fiction always seemed to necessitate another job–Didion and Hemingway wrote for magazines, Faulkner and plenty of others wrote screenplays. Today, writers like George Saunders teach and pick up work writing dollar-a-word-or-better nonfiction pieces for places like GQ. Or if you’re Vincent Lam, you’re a doctor–he wrote a very good short story collection about MDs that was a Story Prize finalist.

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