[W]riters today are less likely to engage in open antagonism because the political risks are too great. Between trolls on Twitter, libel law and the pressures of political correctness, writers no longer dare to insult their rivals in the hyperbolically abusive terms that Mailer and Vidal favoured.
Why do readers love to hate the Times’s Style section? While many of its trend pieces are guilty of the same transgressions committed elsewhere in mainstream media, a history of misogyny and homophobia directed at lifestyle journalism suggests our contempt goes beyond objective criticism:
Far from detailing the paper’s ignominious decline into muddy ethical waters and vacuous intellectual territory, the history of style reporting at the New York Times actually exposes some of the nastiest truths about misogyny and homophobia in the mass media: their intensity, their unbelievable durations (by which I mean “totally believable”), their active contemporary manifestations, and the role audiences play in perpetuating them.
The Butter, The Toast’s new vertical run by Rumpus Essays Editor Emeritus Roxane Gay, has just launched. To present her latest venture, Gay wrote a Butter FAQ, stretching, in her typical style, from submission guidelines (spoiler: no guidelines!) to Nick Jonas, Solange, and of course, Ina Garten!...more
Jonathan Franzen will release another sweeping narrative titled Purity in September of next year, to the edification of serious intellectuals nationwide. While Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux president Jonathan Galassi promises a “multigenerational American epic” that will deal with the ambitious subject matter Franzen is known for, the novel’s “mythic undertone” may be an interesting departure from his trademark social realism....more
Though plenty of adjunct professors still teach students, the full-time, tenured, middle-class professor position is nearing extinction. Adjunct professors are paid at wages below the poverty line while the costs of the career—attending conferences, performing research, accessing academic databases—continue to rise. Sarah Kendzior at AlterNet explains why underpaid adjunct faculty is a sign of a greater problem:
But all Americans should be concerned about adjuncts, and not only because adjuncts are the ones teaching our youth.
I didn’t know when he called me that he’d made up nearly all of the bizarre and amazing stories, that he was the perpetrator of probably the most elaborate fraud in journalistic history, that he would soon become famous on a whole new scale.
For a while now, such characters, if not totally extinct, have been on a steady life-support drip of nostalgia. In an age when GPS tracking, oversharing and 8 Signs Your Man Is Cheating listicles make their services unnecessary, the old-school gumshoe feels as irrelevant as Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple felt a generation before.
In the Bay of Fundy, between Maine’s northeast coast and the western shores of Nova Scotia, lies an island called Grand Manan, whose windswept landscape serves as a source of inspiration and meditation for Alison Hawthorne Deming....more
If the lists are to be believed, the only good new writers are under 40. It’s not just Buzzfeed, but also the New Yorker, Granta, and others who publish lists of great new—and young—authors. Joanna Walsh takes issue with this trend over at the Guardian:
Sometimes the literary bitcoin is just life: some people have more to say aged 50, than at 30; for others it’s the opposite.
It’s a dream city, Tokyo. I mean that literally, in that I often felt like I was experiencing it while asleep.
Can’t get enough Leslie Jamison? The Chicago Humanities Festival video of her October 20 talk with Jac Jemc is available here. They cover a lot of ground in this hourlong Q &A, including a much more involved exploration of “wounded women” and the problem of trying to distinguish between “actual” pain and “performed” pain....more
Does anything in this world feel quite as special or personal as an actual physical letter arriving in the mail? I’m a big fan of the handwritten, of stationery and funky pens. Of Christmas cards and thank-you notes that require a stamp instead of an “@” to arrive at the intended destination.
In anticipation of his memoir, Whipping Boy, Allen Kurzweil shares a condensed version at the New Yorker: his forty-year search for a boy who bullied him in a Swiss boarding school.
Story|Houston published a beautiful story this week in their Fall 2014 issue, all of which centers around the theme of family, functional or otherwise. “Termites” tells the story of Tamara, aka Tam or Tam-Tam, a youngish woman living in and trying to take care of/sell her family’s childhood home on Staten Island....more
At Flavorwire, Jonathan Sturgeon continues the “literary” and “genre” war, offering a new perspective grounded in the marketplace:
So what’s really going on here? Well, it isn’t the genre of prose that has literary novelists anxious. It’s the market status of genre novels.
Why would a writer elicit that kind of hatred? What kind of threat did he pose? I asked my dad if I could borrow a copy of Ulysses, went to my room and began to read. An hour later I came back downstairs.
For T Magazine, seven authors reflect on the experience of revisiting and annotating their early works for an upcoming PEN American Center fundraiser. George Saunders thinks his style in CivilWarLand in Bad Decline was “manic and abrupt.” Jennifer Egan still regrets that she failed to include an Epic poetry chapter in A Visit From the Goon Squad....more