Literary critic Frank Kermode has died at the age of 90. Kermode penned more than two hundred pieces for the London Review of Books, beginning with the first issue in 1979, and edited and wrote dozens of books over the course of his distinguished career. The New Statesman writes: "Kermode wasn't just the finest literary scholar of his generation, he was also one of this country's most luminous practitioners of the higher journalism." His last book, Concerning E. M. Forster was reviewed in the spring 2010 issue of Bookforum.
In an interview with Big Think, novelist Rick Moody says that the economy is changing the face of fiction. "Writers are more desperate than at any time since I've been watching," he says. As a result, young writers are trying to write more conventional, easier-to-sell work: "You can try and write like George Eliot and you can potentially get published, but what worries me is you can no longer write like David Foster Wallace, perhaps."
At The Atlantic, Tim O'Brien meditates on what makes a good story. "To vividly imagine and to vividly render extraordinary human events, or sequences of events, is the hard-lifting, heavy-duty, day-by-day, unending labor of a fiction writer." Cleverness? Not so much.
And now for some good publishing news: Simon & Schuster has hired a new senior editor, Anjali Singh, who has worked with a number of adventurous and inventive authors, including Marjane Satrapi and Samantha Hunt.
The documentary based on Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner's bestselling book Freakonomics will be released on September 3, but you won't be able to see it in a theater until October. For the first month, the film will be available exclusively through iTunes. In other adaptation news, Jack Kerouac's Beat classic On the Road is being prepared for the screen. Viggo Mortensen will play Old Bull Lee, the character based on William S. Burroughs.