The Archive

An excellent introduction to the tortured history of editions of Ulysses.

The legimization of games as novel: see this opinion in MIT's Techreview.  Also interesting are comments from the creator of The Sims.

Context, an excellent online literary journal, has a worthwhile take on the works of Thomas Bernhard.

Here's a late view on the enigma, or Gordon Lish.

When it comes to manifestoes, here's a curious, rather backward-looking one. One has to ask, if these writers are right, why write anything new at all?  Literary history has a quite ample supply of works to meet their criteria.

A quirky but good beginner's guide to the contemporary novel.

Faulkner's enduring power is considered in this essay from The Atlantic.

Sven Birkert's important new book is out: Readings.

For anyone who ponders the relationship of the videogame to the novel, FEED has a new forum on the subject of the industry that has finally surpassed film in gross revenue.

We are sorry to say goodbye to Iris Murdoch.

A society member writes on The Thin Red Line, Terrence Malick's fine new movie.

It was with a profound sense of loss that we received news of the death of William Gaddis this December. Millenial misgivings are hardly to be suffered more than at the loss of one of the very best novelists of our time. Gaddis's view of our collective character is beyond the merely scathing; by fashioning great castles of narrative from little more than pitch-perfect dialogue he effectively eulogized the capitalist dream in America in the second half of this horrific century. Yet there was heart there--if only in the sound of its very breaking.

'The body of the judgment still eludes one—how can a book be so good and so empty all at once, able to tell us so much about America at its best and be so criminally flawed at its worst?" An interesting take on Tom Wolfe's new novel by Norman Mailer. As usual, we can count on Sven Birkerts for a reasonable assessment of the novel and its impact. That A Man in Full is reaching beaucoups of readers is a fact to be celebrated, of course. Does it lessen our collective gain that it does not reach (or aspire) to model our culture's currents along the sturdier ramparts of art? Or is it enough to read about shallowness in shallow terms, as opposed to reading about it with a sense of permanent assay? At any rate, eye candy is always a fun way to spend time, and some varieties do taste better.

In an age of the sanctioning of intellectual property rights by commercial publishing and other filtering apparatuses (e.g., mainstream Hollywood), the web and electronic publishing stand poised to set the serfs free. Greg Williams has a noble project going at Pubspace and you are hereby urged to visit--and contribute to the revolution.

Eudora Welty's Works are finally in the Library of America's canon.

Some years ago the filmmaker Werner Herzog heralded the ascendancy of the image in his work and his theory; now, the visual seems to stand inexorably opposed to the word, as expounded in the recent special issues of the electronic book review , and in this document discussion from Feed.

    "The world had to be circumnavigated before the humblest washerwoman could sip from her ragged cup. The mystery of it all sometimes visited Jephthah at night. It played in his drafty thoughts as he and his uncomprehending Sarah lay under the eiderdown in their timbered bedroom, tight against the night's worst incursions. He, the Oregon trapper, the Chinese hong: everyone prospered. Each of them thought he'd gotten the better end of the deal. Now, how could that be? Where had the profit come from? Who paid for their mutual enrichment?"This excerpt from Richard Powers' new novel Gain serves as a powerful kernel for the narrative. Hardly a contemporary passes Powers' intelligence, even if sometimes his prose is oddly distant and his characters closer to ideas of characters than living beings. The Gold Bug Variations is an earlier masterwork. Read a recent interview in Salon; another is here.

What happens when you feed the Canterbury Tales to a DNA-computation database? A surprising look at narrative theory's newest tool.

Cancer Is A Story We Tell: John Dufresne's second novel, Love Warps the Mind a Little, is out in paper and well worth locating. Full of humor, it tracks the story of small-time writer Lafayette Proulx, ably skirting the edges of metafiction while scarily rendering his cancer-stricken girlfriend's trek through the bureaucracy of the modern hospital's always-a-cure-until-the-last-hour-and-then-we-shrug philosophy.

Our first review.