Critical Reads June 15, 2012: The Behind the Scenes Edition
"Tweets? Sounds like a digital circle jerk."
This week it was all about what happens behind the book scene, whether that meant unpacking the roles of translators and editors or dancing sans fist-pumping to the EDM heavy playlist behind Gideon Lewis-Kraus's A Sense of Direction at Largehearted Boy. With the release of the Awkward Age edition, n+1 delved into the technology behind smart people – and speaking of smart people, Helen DeWitt talked about what happens when writers are really behind the scene, i.e. writing in their journals.
Please RT (n + 1)
Avoiding the Luddite response to Twitter of some in the literary circle, n+1 provides a well-balanced analysis of the social media phenomenon in "Please RT." Sure, Lots of people on Twitter do think you'll enjoy the spectacle of their snacks," but there are benefits too, such as a renewed sense of how language can be compressed for optimal evocation. As such the writer I'd be most likely to follow on Twitter: Amy Hempel.
Gideon Lewis-Kraus "A Sense of Direction" (Largehearted Boy)
In this installment of the beloved Book Notes, author Gideon Lewis-Kraus offers up the playlist that guided him through the globe-trotting he details in his new memoir A Sense of Direction. This is definitely one of the dance track-ier Book Notes, and Lewis-Kraus narrates the playlist with some great anecdotes. The Bruce Springsteen track is kind of a dud, but this introduction to German dancehall act Seeed more than makes up for it.
Chris Andrews (BOMB)
Translators are often the unsung heroes of literature, making it possible for us to read outside our language. In this interview with Chris Andrews, who's brought books like Varamo by Cesar Aira and The Secret of Evil by Roberto Bolano to English speakers, the translator discusses which elements of style are lost and kept in the process of translation and what premature death can do for an author- think quick and posthumous fame.
The Importance of Good Editing (Guardian UK)
It seems like ever since the Raymond Carver-Gordon Lish controversy surfaced, there's been a lot of hullabaloo over the question of what role an editor should take in the writer-editor relationship. In this essay, Rick Gekoski posits that these days, many writers could benefit from ballsier and more stringent editing, calling out Mr. Ian McEwan as just one such writer. Talk about ballsy.
Perfective Vision (Paper Pools)
After reading Edmund White's interview with the Paris Review in which he details the falsities he believes inherent in adults writing about childhood, Helen DeWitt offers herself up as a counter example. She remembers, "I was given a diary for my 8th birthday, and I decided to write in it, because I thought from what grown-ups said that they forgot. I thought that I would grow up and forget how miserable I was, so I was going to write it down to make sure I never forgot." The perpetually fascinating DeWitt goes on to discuss how linguistic memories manage to retain authenticity, scoring another point for team language.
** Part of our Critical Reads series.
Books Feature By Tracy O’Neill
“Dead like those damned CD jewel cases and their booklets!”>>