Ever since the Man Booker prize was opened up to American writers, there’s been a renewed debate about America’s contributions to the literary scene. Many people have wondered who past Bookers would have gone to had American authors been eligible. At The Guardian, a roundtable including Year in Reading alum Joshua Ferris, Curtis Sittenfeld, Edna O’Brien and Martin Amis pick American books they think would have won if they’d had the chance. You could also read Joanna Scutts on the history of the prize.
Although comfortable with solitude, he admits: ‘I couldn’t write all the time. As a writer, you have to come out into the world. I don’t have a Salinger or a Pynchon impulse. There are so many things to do that are interesting.’
Danglers are extremely common, not just in deadline-pressured journalism but in the works of distinguished authors. Considering how often these forms turn up in edited prose and how readily they are accepted even by careful readers, two conclusions are possible: either dangling modifiers are a particularly insidious grammatical error for which writers must develop sensitive radar, or they are not grammatical errors at all. (Did you notice the dangler in the sentence before last?)
The question of how the writer ends up with posterity on his, or her, side assumes an even sharper focus when you consider the fates of all the men and women of letters who have failed to pull off this Herculean feat. The English literary world of the last century is littered with the bones of once-gargantuan reputations now crumbled into dust.
In 1847, Charles Dickens founded a house for homeless women in the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood of London. After setting up the center’s amenities, he publicized the house using leaflets and, upon hearing that London society was shocked that the center had a piano, spread a rumor that the center boasted a piano for every resident. At The Guardian, a look at a letter Dickens wrote to the matron of the house, to be sold at Christie’s in May. (h/t The Paris Review)
Audrey Niffenegger has a new short story in the form of a comic. She collaborated with cartoonist Eddie Campbell on a comic about the dangers of using P.I.s to spy on your husband. The comic is one in a series of collaborations between novelists and cartoonists to celebrate the British Library’s forthcoming exhibition of British comics.
Is “literary” fiction just a product of clever marketing? Elizabeth Edmondson thinks it is. At The Guardian, she argues that classically literary authors like Jane Austen had no idea they were writing Literature — posterity classified their work as such later on. Her essay dovetails nicely with our own Edan Lepucki’s argument that literature is a genre.