Links: A Familiar Story

My first thought when I began reading this article about how literary experimentation has been abandoned in favor of plot was Tom McCarthy‘s C. John Lucas then mentions the book, only to assign it the role of an exception that proves the rule. But isn’t that just as true of William GaddisThe Recognitions, the novel that inspired the article in the first place?

Related: Gravity’s Rainbow was exceptional enough to be rejected by Pulitzer Prize board despite the strong support of the fiction committee. Charles Johnson riffs on that and a few other problems, particularly involving race, with that prize.

Also related: “[R]egardless of the pleasures afforded by novels, was there ever a time when most readers turned to them for a refined aesthetic experience rather than the narrative?”

A fine essay on the unlucky life of writer Allan Seager, author of the much-borrowed short story “The Street.” (via)

Reasons to eagerly anticipate the forthcoming film version of Lionel Shriver‘s We Need to Talk About Kevin.

“The top 80% of all published stories in the [Best American Short Stories] 2005 through 2010 as well as notable stories mentioned in the back pages came from the same 42 journals.”

Colson Whitehead: “The terror of figuring out a new genre, of telling a new story, is what makes the job exciting, keeps me from getting bored, and I assume it keeps whoever follows my work from getting bored as well.” (via)

Connecting the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case with Dinaw Mengestu‘s 2010 novel, How to Read the Air. (Lloyd Jones‘ very good forthcoming novel, Hand Me Down World, hits at some similar themes as well.)

Patrick Kurp on the virtues of reading widely.

“[T]he book review will undoubtedly survive. So will screeds against it, which is only fair: our age is one of constant comment, and the book review must take its lumps as stoically as the books in its pages do.”

On William Burroughs‘ ongoing ill will toward Truman Capote. (via)

A novelist-psychologist argues that “the more fiction you read, the better you are… at understanding other people.”

Lastly, if you’re in the D.C. area, tomorrow marks the very first Indie Lit City Summit, an all-day gathering of indie presses, magazines, and other literary folk from the D.C.-Baltimore region to talk shop and share ideas. The keynote speech will be given by Electric Literature‘s Andy Hunter; more info at the website.

Best Business Novels?

Last week New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera blogged about his efforts to find a great novel about business written in the past 25 years. That didn’t work out very well for him—hey, who’s the joker who recommended William GaddisJR?—but he did prompt a lively discussion about great nonfiction books about business.

On that front, I raised my hand to suggest Steven Bach‘s Final Cut, still the most fun I’ve had reading a book largely involving dollar signs. But I remain stuck on the fiction thing. About five years back I worked on project for Business 2.0 about the most important books about business; Biz 2 is dead now, and the full article is gone to wherever Time Inc. mothballs such things, but a list is here. Yeah, we were probably reaching by putting Moby-Dick in the “leadership” category, but there’s some good stuff in there: Gary Krist‘s Extravagance, Don DeLillo‘s Cosmopolis, Saul Bellow‘s Seize the Day. I’m not sure why Richard PowersGain didn’t make the cut, because I’m certain I suggested it—it’s one of my favorite novels of the past 25 years, period. (Granted, it’s about the rise of a pharmaceutical giant that’s responsible for the lead character’s cancer, which isn’t the sort of thing a national business mag would want to promote. My editors weren’t big on my suggestion of The Road to Wigan Pier.) Any others? I’m thinking of novels that explore the big churning wheels of American business; Mark Sarvas has already collected a nice list of novels that explore office life.