“A self-published magnum opus was, to say the least, an unusual project for a prestigious university press. It had to pass muster with the board of faculty members and administrators that signs off on each book published. But, thanks in large measure to statements of support from the novelist Brian Evenson and critics including Steven Moore, the press decided to acquire the rights to the book. From there, it was only a hop, skip, and a jump to the window of my local Barnes & Noble, where I passed it just this week.”—Garth Risk Hallberg on the self-publishing success story behind Sergio De La Pava’sA Naked Singularity
“Literary prizes are, of course, deeply arbitrary in many ways; such is the nature of keeping score in a creative field. Nonetheless, our prizewinners post is compiled in the same spirit that one might tally up Cy Young Awards and MVPs to determine if a baseball player should be considered for the Hall of Fame. These awards nudge an author towards the “canon” and help secure them places on literature class reading lists for decades to come.”—Millions founder C. Max Magee on The Prizewinners 2011/12
“You overhear a lot when you’re the only Dad at the playground. Even when I pull up with all the right gear – the stroller, the whiffle ball set, the baggies of organic dried-fruit snacks – the regulars peg me as a non-professional. An unserious person, mommy-wise. As a result, they look right through me as if I were just a tallish plush toy, and they say the most amazing things.”—Michael Bourne, “Battle Shrug of the Democracy Dad.”
“Freud’s concept of penis envy seems as ridiculous now as it did when I first learned of it, who knows how long ago. Dad envy, on the other hand, feels as real as the cries in the middle of the night that mean, “I want milk, and you’re the milk lady.” Though fathers are increasingly involved in taking care of their children, they still can’t give birth, or breastfeed, or feel the same kind of cultural — and perhaps biological — pressures that a mother does to attend to her child’s needs. And though it’s amazing to be able to practice these womanly arts, the physical and emotional challenges can wipe a new mother out. (Which is why womb envy, the most prominent feminist psychoanalytic response to Freud, also strikes me as rather dubious.)”—Polly Rosenwaike, “Escapism for Moms: Three Chronicles of Fatherhood”
“The modern element in “Notes from Underground” is Dostoevsky’s exultation in human perversity. You can read this book as a meta-fiction about creating a voice, or as a case study, but you can’t escape reading it also as an accusation of human insufficiency rendered without the slightest trace of self-righteousness. If you begin by grieving for its hero, he upsets you with so much truth of our common nature that you wind up grieving for yourself—for your own insufficiency. “Notes” is still a modern book; it still can kick.”—David Denby, “Can Dostoevsky Still Kick You in the Gut?" For more contemporary readings of Dostoevsky, see Rob Goodman’srecent article on forensics, The Brothers Karamazov and the death of the courtroom drama.
“In at least one sense, however, all literature is civic action: Because it is memory. All literature preserves something which otherwise would die away with the flesh and bones of the writer. Reading is reclaiming the right to this human immortality, because the memory of writing is all-encompassing and limitless.”—Alberto Manguel, "Is there any reason to read?" Plus, Richard Leadiscusses authors’ views on the relationship between the novel and memory at The International Forum on the Novel.