Slowly but steadily, I made my way through Matti Friedman's stunning new book. PUMPKINFLOWERS is a relatively slender volume, and many of its chaptersSlowly but steadily, I made my way through Matti Friedman's stunning new book. PUMPKINFLOWERS is a relatively slender volume, and many of its chapters are quite short. But it's powerful and intense, and I read it carefully and in small doses. (I must add that as I read, I was aware of an additional layer of meaning because my reading time coincided with Israel's Memorial Day and Independence Day.)
PUMPKINFLOWERS has already been receiving a lot of excellent attention. See, for example, thesereviews. Listen to Matti's conversation with The New York Times Book Review's Pamela Paul. And read a related piece by Matti for TheAtlantic.com.
Then, get your hands on a copy of the book....more
Back in the August 2013 issue [of THE PRACTICING WRITER], this newsletter featured a brief review of PAPER DREAMS: WRITERS AND EDITORS ON THE AMERICANBack in the August 2013 issue [of THE PRACTICING WRITER], this newsletter featured a brief review of PAPER DREAMS: WRITERS AND EDITORS ON THE AMERICAN LITERARY MAGAZINE (Atticus Books). Edited by Travis Kurowski, the book impressed me as "a goldmine."
So when I saw that Kurowski had a new anthology out - this time co-edited with Wayne Miller and Kevin Prufer - I was quick to order it. And I'm very glad I did so: LITERARY PUBLISHING IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (Milkweed Editions) was a worthwhile read for me both as a writer and as someone working in the publishing industry today. It may be similarly worthwhile for you.
A few of the essays in this volume - such as Daniel Jose Older's "Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing" and Richard Nash's "What Is the Business of Literature?" - were familiar to me from prior publication online. But most of the contributors were "recruited" for the book.
As the editors note in their introduction, this has resulted in a book that contains "essays on contemporary publishing from the perspective of literary journals (Sven Birkerts of AGNI, and Jessica Faust and Emily Nemens of THE SOUTHERN REVIEW), small and university presses (Donna Shear of the University of Nebraska Press, John O'Brien of Dalkey Archive, Daniel Slager of Milkweed Editions, and Emily Louise Smith of Lookout Books), major New York presses (Gerald Howard of Doubleday), international journals (Gabriel Bernal Granados, Kristin Dykstra, and Robert Tejada of MANDORLA and Megan M. Garr of VERSAL), book critics (Jessa Crispin of BOOKSLUT), digital publishers (Richard Nash of Cursor, Byliner, and Small Demons), and literary agents (Chris Parris-Lamb, interviewed by Jonathan Lee). Other included essays address the increasingly prominent publishing of comics and graphic novels (Douglas Wolk), the effect Amazon has had on the current publishing and bookselling climate (Steve Wasserman), questions of diversity and inclusion in today's publishing world (Erin Belieu, Daniel Jose Older), the increased prevalence of writing contests in the publishing of poetry and short fiction (Kevin Larimer), and various business and operational strategies employed by literary publishers (Matthew Stadler and Jane Friedman)."
Some chapters grabbed my attention more forcefully than others, and I may not agree with everything argued throughout the book. But as a thoughtful reflection on and interpretation of so many of the changes that have occurred more or less since "the turn of the millennium, back when only one in three American adults reported using email at home, [and] the editors of this volume were just beginning careers in literary publishing," this book is one that I'm glad to have on my shelf.
I had the pleasure of meeting Yi Shun Lai a couple of years ago as she graduated from her MFA program, and I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity toI had the pleasure of meeting Yi Shun Lai a couple of years ago as she graduated from her MFA program, and I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to read an advance copy of her novel. Set in New York and Taiwan (with a significant episode unspooling in Las Vegas), NOT A SELF-HELP BOOK: THE MISADVENTURES OF MARTY WU introduces us to a young woman seeking her way, both personally and professionally, often with the "help" of advice manuals that advocate the writing-down of one's thoughts and experiences. Some of the challenges she faces are of her own making; others stem largely from lifelong conflict with her mother, conflict which Marty eventually comes to understand and deal with more successfully. Snappy and entertaining throughout--notwithstanding the tension-filled mother-daughter moments. ...more