John Dolan (for the New York Press) believes that The Paris Review “has seen better days,” and dismisses the entire history of the magazine, represented in a new anthology, as “pompous and bland,” “mid-century, upper-middlebrow writing.” Writers ridiculed include Truman Capote, Toni Morrison, Edward Gorey, William Styron, Jim Jones, Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, Paul Bowles, Heather McHugh, and “that grand bore, Joseph Brodsky.”
Other writers included in the anthology, but not mentioned by Dolan, include Vladimir Nabokov, Grace Paley, W.H. Auden, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Jeanette Winterson, Elizabeth Bishop, Donald Barthelme, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Ha Jin, A.S. Byatt, Jack Kerouac, Raymond Carver, Lorrie Moore, William Burroughs, Philip Roth, John Cheever, Jonathan Lethem, Kurt Vonnegut, Jonathan Franzen, Gabriel GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez, Ian McEwan, Denis Johnson, Peter Ho Davies, Harold Pinter, Umberto Eco, Alice Munro, John Irving, Hunter S. Thompson, Louise Erdrich, and David Foster Wallace. Funny, I didn’t know all of these people were writing in the mid-1900’s.
Anyhow, I hadn’t given much thought to the anthology before, but now I think I’ll pick up a copy.
Poets & Writers quotes the first sentences of selected “new and noteworthy books,” including Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, and Julavits’ The Effects of Living Backwards.
“Ten years ago, there were thousands of aspiring Irvine Welshes, and where are they now? Two or three survived. What it proves is that the public don’t want thousands of similar authors; they want one good one.” –Robert Edric, in the Telegraph.
On this day in 1846, Henry David Thoreau was jailed for not paying his poll tax:
Thoreau was willing to pay his highway taxes, and generally felt himself to be “as desirous of being a good neighbor as I am of being a bad subject,” but he saw no choice with tax dollars that might buy “a man, or a musket to shoot one with.”