Thursday’s Links

  • That Shalom Auslander—even when he writes about sex, he’s good.
  • Somehow I’m not surprised at the books Knopf turned down publishing. They’re still one of the gold standard of publishing, quality-wise that is, so why are people shocked that they made their share of “mistakes”. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but considering how much crap is being published these days, I wish more publishing houses were as discerning as Knopf used to be. (thanks Bookslut)
  • The newest issue of the Quarterly Conversation is available, with essays by Garth Hallberg and Scott Esposito, reviews by Sarah Weinman, Callie Miller, and Matthew Cheney amongst others.
  • I’ve just discovered that Mary Beard has a blog. She’s a well-know Classicist, who’s always doing interesting things. One of the things I appreciate about her most is her desire to get everyone excited about Classics (trust me, start talking about how much fun Herodotus is at a dinner party and see how fast it takes for everyone to stop and stare at you) again. It’s not an elite academic study anymore.
  • Last November, five publishing bigwigs gathered at The New School for LWC}NYC, a literary writers conference organized by the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses and conceived by literary agents Judith Weber and Nat Sobel. The conference, for MFA and post-MFA writers of literature, is aimed at journeymen and women, determined craftspeople who have finished their apprenticeships but who have yet achieved master status. There’s another conference this November 8 to 10th. The Virigina Quarterly Review has helpfully put the podcast of the event and the transcript online.
  • I got the same email as Ed and The Literary Saloon regarding the embargoed information about the Heinz Awards, though I ignored it. Good for Eggers I suppose. I was more interested in that two, yes two, Cantabrigians also won: Dr. Donald M. Berwick, Cambridge, Mass., public policy award. Berwick has worked to ensure that health care institutions better coordinate patient care and implement improved quality controls; Hugh Herr, Cambridge, Mass., technology, economy and employment award. Herr, a double-amputee and researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was given the award for his advances in rehabilitation technologies that help improve quality of life.
  • I finished a book late last night which even though is not coming out until next March I wanted to go ahead and mention. Did you know that James Howard Kunstler wrote fiction? I didn’t. I know him from The Long Emergency and The Geography of Nowhere. Our PGW (I’m still going to call them that even though Perseus has taken over. I still call Hachette Little Brown after all) rep called on me last week to sell the Winter 2008 list. Grove Atlantic has this lovely novel by Kunstler called World Made by Hand. Imagine a more personal, less post apocalyptic and dark version of The Road (sorry, the comparison will be inevitable). Set decades in the future, the oil has finally run out and catastrophe after catastrophe has broken apart the world. But it’s not full of roaming bands of catamites and Mad Max-esque thugs. Small towns have gone back to the old ways of living off the land without electricity and machines. I found it fascinating partly because the author does such a good job of keeping it realistic. Whereas The Road invokes an epic struggle ala The Odyssey, World Made by Hand brings to mind Hesiod’s Works and Days. I found it absorbing and difficult to put down.