Yesterday we showed you David Gilmour, the University of Toronto English professor who told a female reporter that he is "not interested in teaching books by women." "What I teach is guys," Gilmour continued. "Serious heterosexual guys." Gilmour probably thought he sounded very serious and heterosexual while making this bold declaration—a real Ruff Ryder. Unfortunately, his colleagues and students are now calling him a buffoon.
The Man Booker Prize will be open next year to all fiction writers in the language called "English," even those from nations that forcibly unyoked ourselves from the Queen's jurisdiction. Power grab or final capitulation of failed empire? Either way, tough break for Hilary Mantel, up against Jennifer Weiner from now on.
It's art! New York photographer Clayton Cubitt's "Hysterical Literature" web series features ladies reading erotica at a clean white table beneath which, as he put it to Slate, "messy, human, primal, animal things, unfit for public presentation to decent moral people" are going on. It's a rub-your-tummy-while-patting-your-head thing.
We can and will stipulate first of all that Tao Lin is an overbearing self-publicist with a literary career attached, and that he is given to extremely irritating poses. This, however, tells us nothing about whether or not Tao Lin, as a novelist, has any artistic merit; there have been, historically, plenty of serious and important writers among the ranks of overbearing self-publicists, and plenty of frivolous and unimportant ones. If famewhoring ruined Truman Capote, it is probably an equal and opposite truth that a lack of famewhoring prevented some meritorious writer of the same era from ever coming to the public's notice enough for him or her to be ruined. So although publicity has been generally understood to be the defining feature of Tao Lin, we will set it aside.
Last night was the PEN gala, when our nation's leading literary lights like emcee Willie Geist and featured co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin gathered beneath a giant fake blue whale in the Museum of Natural History and all Twittered at each other because they had one of those big Twitter screens that everyone puts up at big events these days to leverage high-impact engagement of #socialmedia #wins. Philip Roth didn't Twitter at #pengala as far as I know, but he did brag about how many Czech girls he fucked.
Henry Blodget, a full grown adult who's held a highly compensated job in finance and founded a multimillion-dollar media company, still retains his ability to be astounded by the little things in life. Like airplanes: what is it like to ride in one? Or women: are they too lazy to get good jobs? Or Jews: why do people hate them so much? Today, Henry Blodget, who has retained the wonderful ability to see the world through a child's eyes (which so many of his cynical peers have lost), has found something outside of his hotel room door. But what??
A recently uncovered essay by Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and other things on your fifth grade summer reading list, shows that the Scottish writer was kind of a curmudgeon when it came to his contemporaries. Basically, he thought they were such a drag.
Practically every literate human has entertained the idea of writing a novel. For most of us the idea fades as soon as something good comes on TV. But imagine if you wrote short stories for a living. Imagine if you wrote dozens of incredible short stories over almost twenty years and became the world's most famous living short story writer, but still never published a novel. Wouldn't you really really want to write a novel? In other words: Why the hell hasn't George Saunders—New York Times-certified "Writer of Our Time"—written a novel?
"I set out to write a memoir that was a love letter to a man I was deeply in love with, a man who challenged me in myriad ways, a man who changed my life profoundly, a man I respected and honored greatly at the time," Alisa Valdes wrote on her blog on Wednesday. She was talking about her book The Feminist and the Cowboy: An Unlikely Love Story. "[W]hat I actually wrote was a handbook for women on how to fall in love with a manipulative, controlling, abusive narcissist. [...] I feel I owe it to my loyal readers and fans to be truthful now. It is the decent thing to do."
The Times has sent critic Dwight Garner on a literary tour of New York in order to answer novelist Gary Shteyngart's immortal question, Can New Yorkers still throw a good party with only a bottle of shampoo? The answer appears to be "maybe," if you are in Brooklyn and allowed to smoke and are also in a coffee shop.
In Murgatroid, Ohio—a perfectly average small American town, in a perfectly average American state, where perfectly average Americans do not so average things—the day begins, as it does elsewhere, with alarm clocks, the cries of cuckoo birds, and the collective "Thshhh" sound of apple pies being thrust onto windowsills from North Snooker Street all the way down to South Shoobadoop Avenue. The sun's rays, golden in that way that rays are, peek over the horizon. It is morning in Murgatroid. Once again, a small town full of Americans bestirs itself for the unexpectedly inspiring day ahead.