“There is no epic literature without a lyrical element. But that has completely disappeared from American literature.” (Exercise: Define “epic.” Also, define “lyrical.”)
D.G. Myers prefers Charles Willeford‘s “Oh, shit, here we go again!” to Kurt Vonnegut‘s “And so it goes.”
When I go off on one of my jags about D.C. novels, somebody will occasionally mention Andrew Holleran‘s 2004 novel, Grief. (One friend recently mentioned loving it but finding it impossible to finish because it was so profoundly sad—perhaps the most peculiar but intriguing bit of praise I’ve heard about a book.) Mary Pacifico Curtis makes a compelling case for it.
A 1906 letter from Upton Sinclair to president Theodore Roosevelt, written shortly after The Jungle was published.
Amy Hempel: “I do so much revision in my head before I write something down that I probably do less actual revision than many other writers.” (via)
Wealthy folks are heading to Montana to try their hand at being horsemen, much to the chagrin of Thomas McGuane.
Joyce Carol Oates: “It’s rare for me to ask for others’ opinions—I don’t have that kind of personality, though I am a writing instructor myself. I would not feel comfortable asking another person to read my work and spend time thinking about it in a potentially helpful way.”
Arthur Phillips is having fun being poker-faced about his next book, which appears to be a Pale Fire-ish faux critical commentary on a Shakespeare play about King Arthur.
In the Guardian, a dozen writers weigh in on each month of the year. Lionel Shriver notes that “February is for curmudgeons, whinge-bags and misanthropes.”
Matthew Hunte compares the 1999 and 2010 classes of New Yorker‘s “20 Under 40” writers, and notes how the first group’s “heirs to a tradition of formal experimentation and hyper-intellectualism” gave way to one whose thematic preoccupation is “escape, whether it is from a stifling relationship, a plantation, a collapsing country or merely from responsibility.”
Fredrik Colting‘s riff on The Catcher in the Rye is officially barred from publication in the United States.
I initially figured that Amber Sparks‘ concern about the lack of working-class American fiction was a bit of an overreaction. But then I saw that at least one New York Times headline writer noted that Louis Auchincloss wrote about
WASPs “people who mattered.” To the barricades!