Links: Wallace, Robinson, Beattie

Nothing like one writer’s death to prompt idiotic overstatements about the state of a nation’s literature.

Marilynne Robinson explains the rationale behind the simple-as-air title of her third novel, Home: “There’s nothing in the world that suggests comfort in the same sense as the idea of home, and home is the absolute base in America…. And if you say, of a 45-year-old man that he’s gone back home, it tends to mean that the world hasn’t worked out.”

Ann Beattie addresses the state of the short story:

It’s always evolving. Probably it’s more various than the novel. The short story is often praised by critics for the wrong reason, though —for the subject matter. There are a lot of writers now writing short stories who don’t much interest me, because their stories are no more than shoehorning overtly weird stuff into the form. You know all those reviews that praise the story and say: “The cross-dressing leprechaun with TB turns out to be the second wife of the King of Sweden, and both are having a secret affair with Prince Charles.” Too many story writers feel they have to add MSG. The best stories have to be searched out: they’re in Narrative and Tin House and Mississippi Review.

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