Punching What?

Let us continue to count, and talk, and think about the numbers. —Claire Vaye Watkins As one of the major theses of Claire Vaye Watkins’s celebrated manifesto, “On Pandering,” is that the subject-position I represent should not be acknowledged as a legitimate authority on the essay’s quality or cogency, I will not address myself to … Continue reading Punching What?

On the Survival of Writers’ Reputations

Ted Gioia, introducing his reconsideration of John Fowles: Here’s the truest test. Wait until ten years after their death, and see if anyone still talks about their books. You need a decade for the hype to dissipate, for the eulogies to fade from readers’ memories. Class reading lists have now been updated. The old book … Continue reading On the Survival of Writers’ Reputations

How the Novel Succeeded and How You Can Too

[I post this at Tumblr yesterday in response to an anonymous questioner using that platform's "ask" feature. I am posting it here because this is generally where I keep longer pieces I've written. The questioner asked me if I had any thoughts on how the novel rose to cultural prominence, despite the form's many critics, … Continue reading How the Novel Succeeded and How You Can Too

Labyrinth vs. Network; or, Why Modernism Is Not Google

I find a lot to criticize and very little, almost nothing, to like in the Tom McCarthy essay that is making the rounds, but I will confine myself to one point: It is not just that people with degrees in English generally go to work for corporations (which of course they do); the point is that the … Continue reading Labyrinth vs. Network; or, Why Modernism Is Not Google

Dorothy Richardson, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Literary History

Amy Shearn on how and why Karl Ove Knausgaard's champions have neglected the modernist Dorothy Richardson, whose roman-fleuve Pilgrimage anticipates My Struggle in mode and method: As much as I do love my dear prolific weirdo Knausgaard, he hasn’t really done anything all that revolutionary. In fact, exactly a century ago, England saw the beginnings … Continue reading Dorothy Richardson, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Literary History

“Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?”

Horace Engdahl, job consultant: In an interview with French paper La Croix, Engdahl said that the “professionalisation” of the job of the writer, via grants and financial support, was having a negative effect on literature. “Even though I understand the temptation, I think it cuts writers off from society, and creates an unhealthy link with institutions,” … Continue reading “Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?”