Monday, August 23, 2010

Jonathan Franzen is on Time's cover!

It's intriguing that even in these times, when literary fiction is reportedly on life support, Jonathan Franzen can be a cover story for Time!

The trend in fiction over the past decade has been toward specialization: the closeup, the miniature, the microcosm. After the literary megafauna of the 1990s — like Infinite Jest by the late David Foster Wallace, who was a close friend of Franzen's — the novels of the aughts embraced quirkiness and uniqueness. Franzen skipped that trend. He remains a devotee of the wide shot, the all-embracing, way-we-live-now novel.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gunter Grass interview

SPIEGEL publishes a great interview with Gunter Grass.
Q: Do you fear the end of your life?
Grass: No. I've realized that, on the one hand, one is ready for it. I also realize that I've retained a certain amount of curiosity. What will happen to my grandchildren? What will the weekend football results look like? Of course, there are also some banalities I still want to experience. Jacob Grimm wrote a wonderful piece on aging, and I also found the following sentence in another one of his works: "The last harvest is on the stalk." It touched me, and of course it immediately prompted me to reflect on my own age. In doing so, I didn't discover any predominant fear of death.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fear of writing about the real world?

Christos Tsiolkas's take on contemporary fiction
"In the English-language novel there is a fear of writing about the real world. I don't read a lot of contemporary fiction that's true to the world. I read to have my assumptions challenged, to be scared, to cry. That novel isn't being written at the moment."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Norman Spinrad on publishing

Norman Spinrad, well-known writer, literary critic, and expert on publishing, has an interesting post at his blog NORMAN SPINRAD AT LARGE.

Hey, I learned the business of publishing from the gutter up as a 24 year old anonymous wage slave in the Scott Meredith Literary Agency. I’ve been president of two writers’ organizations. I’ve written a whole book on the publishing industry. I’ve been called a Communist, a Fascist, an anarchist, a punk, a bastard, an asshole, and a prick. But one thing I’ve never been called is naive.

Now I have to do it to myself.

Boy was I naive about the great literary publishing house Alfred A. Knopf!

Boy was I naive about its maven, Sonny Mehta!

This is not only going to be a sad story, it’s quite embarrassing to have to tell it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Publishers, take note

How revelatory that Nilanjana S.Roy,a former editor of a big publishing house, now feels guilty of having played volumes-versus-quality game in publishing.

"It’s time for publishers to start being gatekeepers again, to step away from the mediocre, the easy successes, the frozen-pizza school of writing — easy to sell, easy to consume, of no nutritional value whatsoeve."

But would any publisher really care?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lydia Davis interview

In the Observer,William Skidelsky interviews Lydia Davis, who is famous for writing stories that are sometimes one-sentence long.

"I started writing the one-sentence stories when I was translating Swann's Way. There were two reasons. I had almost no time to do my own writing, but didn't want to stop. And it was a reaction to Proust's very long sentences. The sheer length of a thought of his didn't make me recoil exactly – I loved working on it – but it made me want to see how short a piece of fiction could be that would still have a point to it, and not just be a throwaway joke."

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