The Writing Industry Is Booming, Even if the Book Industry Isn't
Years ago, one of the big New York slicks (I have no idea which one, though Esquire leaps to mind) ran a story purporting to represent the ranking of living American fiction writers. As I recall, it included a rather scary looking pyramid of scribbled names, topped by John Updike and Saul Bellow. There were no more than a few hundred names on the entire pyramid, all of which fit on a standard blackboard. READ MORE >>
How the acknowledgments page became the place to drop names
Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In hasn’t even been published yet, and already it’s sparked a national conversation about modern feminism. Though worthy, this has obscured the national conversation we should really be having. Lean In exposes a vein of something truly endemic and toxic in our culture. READ MORE >>
Christa Wolf, the exemplary writer and dissident from the expired dictatorship of East Germany, was living in Santa Monica in 1992-93, aged 64, working on a novel and conducting a characteristically “ruthless self-examination” about holding onto a belief in the unrealized possibilities of East Germany. READ MORE >>
Lanny Davis's book party was a beacon of bipartisanship. Just don't mention Laurent Gbagbo.
We all know how difficult it is these days to find moments of bipartisan comity in our polarized capital. Heck, even the good folks at Fix the Debt seem to have faded from the scene. So it was gratifying indeed to attend an event Tuesday night that stood as a beacon of all that Washington once was and could yet be, if we could only learn to get along again: Lanny Davis's book party. READ MORE >>
Are novels ripped from the headlines any good?
Jonathan Dee specializes in relevance: the mode of realism that’s brought Jonathan Franzen and Tom Perrotta so much acclaim. Whereas Ernest Hemingway dredged his own experiences for material (he wandered around Paris and wrote a book about it; he went on a safari and wrote a book about it), this lot feeds off the zeitgeist, converting headlines―from the Lifestyles section―into fiction. In their novels they hold a mirror up to America’s anxieties. Their characters’ preoccupations are impeccably up to date. READ MORE >>
As millions mourn and others quietly celebrate the death of Hugo Chávez, the world returns to a question asked incessantly throughout his 14-year rule: For what will we remember him? To some extent, we already have an answer. Journalists and academics have documented the basic Chávez story: political outsider comes to power, founders as policymaker, uses timely oil boom and rhetorical wile to secure voters’ love and hate in not-quite-equal measure.1 READ MORE >>
Jeb Bush has long been one of the GOP's most moderate voices on immigration reform, and now the former Florida governor is out with a new book that offers a plan for "resolving immigration issues for the long term" and making gains among Hispanic voters. Alas, it is not a persuasive plan. READ MORE >>
Eliot's Letters from 1926-1927
“About my letters,” T.S. Eliot snarled at his mother, when she innocently offered, in early 1927, to return the trove she had received over the years. “For heaven’s sake don’t send them to me. If there is one thing more depressing than reading other people’s old letters it is reading one’s own.” He wanted the letters kept from others as well, he told her, and even destroyed if necessary. “I do not want my biography, if it is ever written—and I hope it won’t—to have anything private in it. READ MORE >>
The Evolution of the Battlefield
The scene is familiar from a thousand novels and films. Lines of soldiers, clad in brightly colored uniforms, march toward each other across a flat green field. Fifes and drums, perhaps a bagpipe, accompany them. Nearby, on well-groomed warhorses, sit cavalrymen, resplendent in gold-braided pelisses and plumed shakos. In response to shouted commands, the soldiers lift heavy muskets to their shoulders. Explosions drown out the fifes, and the magnificent colors vanish under clouds of thick gray gunpowder smoke. READ MORE >>
Back in 2008, the British writer Jim Crace announced that he would retire from fiction in three years’ time, fearing the fate of the elderly novelist who is “no longer fashionable and can only find a marginal publisher and command a tiny advance.” Leaving aside the melancholy truth that plenty of writers must make do with trifling advances from small publishers, one has to take Crace at his word. READ MORE >>