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Friday Finds for Writers

Treasure Chest
Writing-related resources, news, and reflections to enjoy over the weekend.

  • “We who love literature face an urgent crisis: a gruesome epidemic of articles worrying over the demise of literature, reading, English Departments, and apparently (along with them) culture, art, morality, humanity, and ALL KNOWLEDGE AND CIVILIZATION.” I’ll admit that I’ve wearied of reading those articles. But I enjoyed Tasha Golden’s Ploughshares blog post on “the problems with doomsday laments” themselves.
  • Speaking of we who love literature: David Abrams is one of our literary culture’s great heroes. The latest example of his goodliness: the new edition of his Front Porch Books column, “a monthly tally of books–mainly advance review copies (aka “uncorrected proofs” and “galleys”)” that have made their way to his Kindle–and the pile of packages on his front porch.
  • It may sound silly or self-evident, but, as The Renegade Writer cautions us, “If You Don’t Read Magazines, Don’t Try to Write for Them.”
  • “In Praise of Vacation Time.” I think we can all use this reminder.
  • And on a somber note: I’ve spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about and grieving for Robin Williams. I’ve also been prompted to revisit William Styron’s seminal Darkness Visible, which you can find in its magazine form on the Vanity Fair website.
  • Have a good weekend, everyone.

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    4 Responses »

    1. A certain type of person often grabs some aspect of society and predicts the end of the world. About a year after Bill Clinton took office the Kansas City Star ran an Op-Ed piece saying, basically, that western civilization was doomed. The reason being that President Clinton insisted on wearing, in public, a sub-hundred-dollar Timex Runner’s watch. That “Wrist Gargoyle” meant the end of life as we knew it. After I stopped laughing, I wanted to find the author, slap him and say, in my best William Shatner imitation, “Get A Life!”

      Tasha Golden’s post makes some good points. But they can, and should, be applied to more than just academically approved “Literature.” Like it, or not, Lit (with an upper case “L”) is seen by a huge majority of the population as something to be avoided. (In my opinion, your milage may vary.)

      In many cases this shunning is brought on by the Lit teachers themselves. Just as forced dissection of a frog in biology class drives students from that field, forced dissection of a book drives many students away from reading for pleasure. If someone hands them a book that has “great literary merit” they run for the hills. Can’t say I really blame them.

      Again, in my opinion, any decline and fall of Lit is from self-inflicted wounds.

      (Erwin steps down from antique soapbox and exits.)

    2. Love the Ploughshares article. She mentions trends I’ve admired in recent years like bibliotherapy and all sorts of other good stuff.

      But there’s one thing that I think is worth mentioning: a lot of the doom and gloom types are in the ranks of literary fiction and the academic world. I see many people still loving books — but they are more often turning to self-help/health/general non-fiction or they are reading genre fiction than picking up the “literary fiction.” There are segments of genre fiction that are doing quite well (readership and sales), and looking down upon those readers as “merely” reading something that is beneath the notice of someone running an MFA program is a mistake, IMO.

      • Fair points, Rebecca. Maybe part of my boredom with the “gloom and doom” pieces stems from a sense that they seem to be popping up repeatedly within a certain kind of echo chamber.

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