"The main question on my mind is, will it be any good? I’m not getting my hopes up." —Some space-filling Slate person peers into the future and predicts why J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults will not be good, based on what she feels was weak about the Harry Potter books. Oh GOD. Really? Let's just all agree on this one thing: unless you can back up your predictions with ACTUAL ASTROLOGY I am really not interested in reading reviews of books that don't yet exist.
Jonathan Franzen is in my estimation America's best living novelist (OKAY?) and a substantial number of people get upset whenever he writes or says basically anything. It's interesting to ask why! In part it's because his ideas about novels and what people respond to in them are provocative and controversial, and sometimes, as in his recent essay about Edith Wharton, he projects his own responses onto "us" in a way that can be irritating, if we disagree with him. Our opinion about his writing is also affected by of how rich he is and his gender and what he looks like, and that's very hard to talk about. But [...]
Are you a literary harlot? You are not alone. Even Vladimir Nabokov had an eye for self-marketing, subtly suggesting to photo editors that they feature him as a lepidopterist prancing about the forests in cap, shorts and long socks. (“Some fascinating photos might be also taken of me, a burly but agile man, stalking a rarity or sweeping it into my net from a flowerhead,” he enthused.) Across the pond, the Bloomsbury set regularly posed for fashion shoots in British Vogue in the 1920s. The frumpy Virginia Woolf even went on a “Pretty Woman”-style shopping expedition at French couture houses in London with the magazine’s fashion editor in [...]