This week, Allison K. Gibson looked into the “awkward but necessary role of technology in fiction,” and what it means to include it or overlook it in a given work of fiction. Similarly, what’s with the absence of birth scenes in literature?
"Marta Reale, 10, her smile broad, her bangs blanched, made her way to a recreation center’s doorway through the dense crowd of other children, sunlit cigarette smoke and mothers fanning themselves on the seats of scooters. Above her, more children were hanging out the window, and above them, more were crammed onto a balcony." Jason Horowitz files from Naples, Italy for The New York Times about a casting call for HBO's upcoming adaptation of Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend, noting that it "has already drawn 5,000 children, the vast majority of whom have never heard of Elena Ferrante, and injected a mix of hysteria and hope into parts of Naples that are poor in resources but rich in real characters." Pair with this piece about The Neapolitan Quartet‘s scope and impact.
What is the function of the art critic, anyway? According to Barry Schwabsky at The Nation, it is not "making or breaking" an artist, but rather "opening up perspectives without ... belaboring them." For the critically minded among you, here's a Millions review of A.O. Scott's new book Better Living Through Criticism.
Our own Emily St. John Mandel is in conversation with Laura van den Berg over at the FSG blog. “We have such a mania for classification, don’t we? Everything just seems so black-or-white, one-or-zero, genre-or-literary sometimes, and I don’t think those divisions are especially helpful.” The authors are Year in Reading alumni, and you can check out Mandel’s and van den Berg’s posts at the respective links.
Recommended Reading: The selected letters of William S. Burroughs at The Paris Review Daily. Read his correspondences with family and writers Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer. Pair with Jonathan Clarke’s article on why an author’s biography will never be more important than their writing.