…our Franzen problems, these days, are pretty minor. We don’t have to worry that Chip Lambert’s hand-wringing is going to reinforce the old, realist modes of romantic reaction. But we do have to worry about what happens to attempts to resist those modes.
Posts Tagged: Bookforum
In the middle of a digression on the bar scene in Kansas, Edmund White took a moment to question its authenticity:
Sometimes gay friends my age or older ask me if I ever miss the good-bad old days before gay liberation.
Reminded of a quote from Charles Baxter — “‘if you want a compelling story…put your protagonist among the damned” — Jabai Asim argues, in Bookforum’s “Daily Review” that while Ferguson is intriguing as a historical moment, it’s just as important to watch “the continuing battle of who gets to tell” the story....more
Here is a map to help you visualize human migration over the course of our 200,000 year existence. Using data based on mitochondrial DNA difference, the map models migratory patterns as humans “moved outward from Africa into Asia, and later the Americas, Indonesia and Australia.” The visual distinguishes between land and water or temporary land/ice bridges, while highlighting genetic populations and the extent of ice....more
The art world is a rough place, which is the practical thought behind art schools offering courses on grant-writing and portfolio building.
Still, even with the presence of these utilitarian courses, when embarking on your formative artistic education, how can you conceive of the difficulties ahead?...more
“The best seller is caught in a peculiar paradox: Its popularity can be understood as both proof and negation of its value.”
The term “best seller,” is in question. Bookforum has an essay on how the term is more of a hyperbolic designation with a shifting definition, than one that is clear-cut and quantifiable....more
The project was created in hopes of reigniting a certain kind of social spontaneity that is lost on all of us by way of headphones and fast-paced lifestyles....more
“That it is being considered as book of criticism, rather than as memoir, seems the luck of the draw. Some of the essays in it were originally published in the guise of book reviews, but they always jump the rails of literary journalism and go off on their own course — assessing not just the text but its place in the constellation of her own interests and personal history, which are (respectively) various and knotty.”
In light of all the back and forth about memoirs, I think this appraisal of Terry Castle’s The Professor and Other Writings is pretty enlightening....more
“It’s a shaggy-dog tale, one that eventually—boldly—invites comparison to its great progenitor, Don Quixote. In cutting a classic wide swath, Pacazo exposes itself to risk, a tricky balance between hilarity and horror. By and large, though, this rangy novel earns its claim to the old knight’s inheritance.”...more
“But the question lingers: Apart from its questionable value as a marketing strategy, what is utopia good for?”
Paul La Farge at Bookforum on the concept and uses of utopia, with special mention of San Francisco and Burning Man....more
“Lane’s other invention, alongside the cheap, quality paperback, was the Penguincubator, first installed outside Henderson’s (the ‘Bomb Shop’) at 66 Charing Cross Road, which signaled his intention to take the book beyond the library and the traditional bookstore, into railway stations, chain stores and onto the streets....more
“It is the official art of authoritarian governments, aimed at extending state control through propaganda. Totalitarian kitsch exists to glorify the state, foster a personality cult surrounding the dictator and celebrate ceaseless and irrevocable social and economic progress through images of churning factories and happy, exultant workers.”...more
Time Magazine has already called it “The Decade From Hell.”
(Couldn’t have been worse than the 1940’s?! Could it? I mean the 40’s had Hitler AND Stalin.)
And if you have survived the “aughts” reasonably intact as we caterwaul our way into 2010 with a health care package being vigorously stripped of all its progressive promises, an escalating war(s) and the seemingly insurmountable problems of mass poverty, financial instability and ecological meltdown, you might find yourself like me going head to head with an even heartier enemy: belief....more
Greetings! Your humble guest-editor Michael is back in the saddle for another round of negotiating the highly-addictive world of the book blogs. I had an interesting week, where I had time to contemplate my imminent move to Bernal Heights and whether I should apply to those blasted MFA’s again and what it means that I can’t seem to stop watching post-apocalyptic movies and reading depressingly dystopian fiction....more
Anyone who has ever been in a creative writing workshop knows the type of shame ordinarily suffered only by lifestyle submissives. And in the new Bookforum, Mark Grief, while reviewing Mark McGurl’s The Program Era, plays with McGurl’s idea that the shame inherent in academia has in fact helped define an entire era of literature....more