The latest issue of The Quarterly Conversation has just been published. The main event this time around is a symposium on the work of Lydia Davis: 7 essays, plus one long interview that I think is going to be one of the more insightful interview/profiles of her that gets published this year.
There are also several other essays (Sebald, J. M. Ledgard), an interview with Ben Marcus, reviews, and a couple more items on Mavis Gallant and Blood Meridian.
I’m also going to toss up a donation box this week. The website is of course free, as it has been for the past 8 1/2 years. If you think the work there is valuable and want to contribute whatever you think is fair for reading the issue, then you can do that below.
Full table of contents after the jump, or just click right here.
Continue reading Quarterly Conversation Issue 35 | Spring 2014
My prediction: less than a year after this releases no one will have remembered it ever existed.
You’ve also just gotta love the headline that Elite Daily (“The Voice of Generation Y”) is going with here: “This Insane New App Will Allow You To Read Novels In Under 90 Minutes.” Not that I expect a site like ED to practice anything resembling journalism, but when did the fact of these sorts of websites basically being a PR arm of Apple/Samsung/etc become so completely transparent? Seriously, their “article” reads like a press release cooked up by a teenager on amphetamines:
The reading game is about to change forever. Boston-based software developer Spritz has been in “stealth mode” for three years, tinkering with their program and leasing it out to different ebooks, apps, and other platforms.
Now, Spritz is about to go public with Samsung’s new line of wearable technology.
“Insane,” “change the game,” “stealth mode” . . .
Anyway, you all know the critique of the ORP (which is truly a fantastic acronym for this technology). Blah, blah, can’t comprehend Middlemarch at 500 words per minute, blah, blah, reading is about thinking and reflection, not gorging yourself on words like it’s some 58 oz Slurpee, blah, blah . . .
There’s a slightly more evolved critique here about how technology is slowly trying to narrow the range of ways in which you can read, but I think I’ve had all the ORP I can stomach for one day . . .
“I was astounded by the size of his music collection: he must have something like 10,000 records,” says Rubin, counting just the vinyl and not the CDs. “I’ve offered him some old LPs from my collection (after talking about music) and he would say, ‘Oh, I have this one or I can get it myself.’ He didn’t want to take it from me.
“His knowledge of music in any field is just astounding. His knowledge of classical music is really immense,” Rubin says. “When I first read ‘Talking about music with Mr. Seiji Ozawa’–that book where he and the conductor were talking about classical music matters–I would occasionally lose track of who was talking and think that I was reading Ozawa, because there was this very knowledgeable comment about how the Cleveland Orchestra in the 1950s changed with (conductor) George Szell or something like that, but this was Murakami talking.
Geoff Dyer connects Benjamin, Barthes, Sontag, and Berger.
Berger was indebted to both of the others. Dedicted to Sontag, the 1978 essay “Uses of Photography” is offered as a series of “responses” to On Photography, published the previous year: “The thoughts are sometimes my own, but all originate in the experience of reading her book.” Writing about The Pleasure of the Text (1973), Berger described Barthes as “the only living critic or theorist of literature and language whom I, as a writer, recognize.”
For his part, Barthes included Sontag’s On Photography in the list of books—omitted from . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I like Franco Moretti’s work because the conclusions he draws feel pertinent to how I comprehend books. My approach to literature is very, very, very different from his, a thing that Moretti obviously realizes is often going to be the case and is always aware of in his criticism. And this is clearly why I like it so much, whereas so much other writing in his vein just sounds trivial to me. He knows he’s doing his own thing, and he’s careful not to make dumb claims that his thing is the only thing (which technology people . . . continue reading, and add your comments
While I think Hanif Kureishi is slightly overstating things, I agree with this in spirit. But I would very quickly add that learning how to write is not the point of the MFA. They’re more about having time off to write and making connections than actually being taught how to write. I think in the best case you have a group of talented, motivated people who want to learn things from truly great writers, and the program ends up being partly getting a master’s “spin” on writing/editing, partly and 2 years of uninterrupted time to do your . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Audio of the full thing is now up on Soundcloud.
The classy thing to do is to remove the ephemera before you sell the book.
I bought my copy of this book (used, at the Strand) — and it came with a printout of the e-mail from those who had originally requested it as a review copy from publisher Talisman House: The New York Review of Books. Must have made the publisher’s day to get that review copy request (their books don’t seem to be … widely reviewed) — though I regret to be the bearer of bad news and note that less than a month . . . continue reading, and add your comments
One more post on this subject, since it continues to be fascinating to me. One of the other reasons that I’ve concluded the academic life was never going to be my thing is because of the specialization required. Again, Josh Marshall:
My old college professor Tony Grafton rightly made the point that that scholars aren’t narrowing their fields of inquiry for the hell of it. Narrowing of focus is often the price of discovering genuinely new information, opening doors to new knowledge. And narrowness itself is probably too ambiguous a word to be useful in this context.
. . . continue reading, and add your comments
Given Amtrack’s new plan to host writers on its train, I’m feeling a little prophetic. As I say here, I’ve long known the value of trains to the creative process:
How fitting that Heidegger links this moment to boredom: it is precisely in those unconstructed white expanses that our thoughts are freed from the channels that normally guide them through a day. In this sense reading may be thought of as a variety of boredom. On many days I reach this quasi-bored state after having taken the morning train into the city where I work. I . . . continue reading, and add your comments