In the smartest response we’ve read to Mark Edmundson’s screed against the state of contemporary poetry in Harper’s, Stephen Burt puts Edmundson’s critique into historical context—“complaints against contemporary poetry arise, like vampire slayers, in every generation”—and addresses his concerns point by point. While conceding that “some American poets today are indeed, as Edmundson complains, difficult, idiosyncratic, private, learned, or just weird,” Burt also makes a convincing case that there are many poets today working towards Edmundson’s ideal: “a clearer and a more public contemporary poetry.”
At the New Statesman, Laurie Penny examines her history as a “manic pixie dream girl” (critic Nathan Rabin’s term for the girl who “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures”) and considers the ways in which sexism in storytelling often translates into real life dynamics.
Flavorwire debuts a Google Map of all the places Tao Lin’s protagonist visits in his new novel, Taipei.
A new study of international reading habits finds that Indians on average read more than anybody else, reading an average of ten hours a week. After India, the best-read nations are Thailand (9 hours, 24 minutes), China (8 hours), the Philippines (7 hours, 36 minutes), Egypt (7.5 hours) and the Czech Republic (7 hours, 24 minutes). Americans and Germans both clocked in at 5 hours, 42 minutes, while out of the 30 countries polled, Koreans read the least: just three hours and seventeen minutes a week.
Within the past year, Alice Munro and Philip Roth have announced their retirement from writing, leading a lot of people to wonder why anybody would need to officially retire from a profession that doesn’t have set hours. At Newsweek, Jimmy So explains why being a professional writer is the same as having a day job: “John Updike used to rent a one-room office above a restaurant, where he would report to write six days a week. John Cheever famously put on his only suit and rode the elevator with the 9-to-5 crowd, only he would proceed down to the basement to write in a storage room. Robert Caro still puts on a jacket and tie every day and repairs to his 22nd-floor Manhattan office.”
Twenty-five years after the launch of his award-winning graphic novel series “Sandman,” Neil Gaiman is working on a six-issue prequel. The forthcoming series, “Sandman: Overture” will focus on the character of Morpheus, Lord of Dreams, and the first issue will be released this October. According to The Guardian, “the storyline describes what happened to Dream before the events of the first ever comic, in which he was imprisoned by an Aleister Crowley-ish Satanist.” The original series, which had a 75-issue run, was one of the first graphic novels on the New York Times bestseller list, and won Gaiman six Harvey and nineteen Eisner awards.