The Old Hag notes that the latest issue of Poets & Writers features a profile of Stuart Dybek. Also in the new issue: a handful of articles on the inner workings of literary contests, a brief piece about online fiction writing classes (see Zoetrope for a free, self-directed alternative), advice on manufacturing simile and metaphor (seems to me that these devices work best when they flow naturally from the text), news of the reissue of forgotten pulp novels by women, and a brief report on the publication, despite the author’s wishes, of Thomas Hardy’s letters (discussed extensively online sometime last month). And of course there’s the real reason writers read PW: the literary classifieds (registration now required).
Reading Laura Miller’s review of the Toni Morrison novel (see below) put me off the NYTBR yesterday. It’s not that I think Morrison’s writing is above criticism–nothing of hers I’ve read in the last ten years has impressed me as much as Beloved and Song of Solomon–it’s just the predictable, sneering tone of Miller’s reviews that gets to me. Let me be clear: I have no problem with “snark” (we seem to be stuck with that word) per se, but from Miller’s reviews and articles about publishing I get the impression that she’s always looking for a contrarian angle. Anyhow, Sarah Weinman, who has more fortitude than I do, points to yet another curmudgeonly Miller article in the current book review. In it, Miller assails the short story form.