What books should a critic own? "Each week, the National Book Critics Circle will post a list of five books a critic believes reviewers should have in their libraries." Here are all the lists, from 2007-2011. [more inside]
The death of writing – if James Joyce were alive today he’d be working for Google: [Guardian Books]
There’s hardly an instant of our lives that isn’t electronically documented. These days, it is software that maps our new experiences, our values and beliefs. How should a writer respond? Tom McCarthy on fiction in the age of data saturation.
Introducing Sociology: Tim Kreider's influential 1999 essay (previously) on how Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut uses sex and infidelity to cover up a story of greed and murder by the elite gets a brand new afterward by the author to introduce a new site for his non-fiction writing, TimKreider.com
These days, the idea of being a “good reader” or a “good critic” is very much out of fashion — not because we believe that such creatures do not exist, but because we all identify as both. The machine of consumerism is designed to encourage us all to believe that our preferences are significant and self-revealing; that a taste for Coke over Pepsi, or for KFC over McDonald’s, means something about us; that our tastes comprise, in sum, a kind of aggregate expression of our unique selfhood. We are led to believe that our brand loyalties are the result of a deep, essential affinity between the consumer and product — this soap is “you”; this bank is “yours” — and social networking affords us countless opportunities to publicise and justify these brand loyalties as partial explanations of “who we are”.
Perhaps the most dangerous effect of the Big Crunch mentality has been to make television creators think of themselves as auteurs, to convince them that in spite of the massive interference with their work, they can somehow create a work of aesthetic integrity and sociological insight even if they don’t know where it’s going. Well, sometimes you get lucky, but more often, the result is disaster, and the effort spent toward that failure is redirected from where it would be better put: creating great trash. An essay on the challenges and pitfalls of writing serialized TV plots from The American Reader. [more inside]
"You might not have the talent you need. Success may no longer be available to you. Time will bury everything you care about."
Movie critic Matthew Dessem (previously) considers Edward Ford to be the greatest unproduced screenplay in Hollywood.
A Short History Of Book Reviewing's Long Decline: 'By the time of the first quote “book-review,” criticism had been in circulation for centuries—long enough for writers to know how it can sting. Understandably, then, the critic’s skepticism of an artist's genius has invariably existed alongside the artist's doubt over the critic's judgment.' [more inside]
Fire the Bastards... examined the initial 55 reviews that appeared in response to the publication of William Gaddis's masterpiece The Recognitions. [more inside]
National Novel Writing Month (seen before) starts Nov. 1. The goal: complete a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, Nov. 30. If you'd like to start, or are otherwise working on a novel, Sean Lindsay and others would like you to please stop. [more inside]
'These are a few of my least favorite things.' Melvin Jules Bukiet shares his thoughts on some contemporary writers, some of whom call the borough of Brooklyn home. Writers with names like Foer, Sebold and Eggers, among others. His thoughts are mostly negative. [via]