As the rave reviews of Jonathan Franzen's new novel, Freedom, pour in ("Masterpiece of American fiction," "Novel of the Century," etc.) and the backlash begins (though you can't buy the book yet), Lorin Stein blogs at The Atlantic about what it means for the future of literary fiction (and the companies that publish it). Stein knows the territory well; he worked for Franzen's publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, for more than a decade before decamping to the Paris Review a few months ago. He writes: "In my 12 years at FSG, we saw publishers lose millions every season trying to corner the market on the Big New (preferably Young) Literary Sensation. Meanwhile really tricky, idiosyncratic writers—Lydia Davis, Denis Johnson, Elif Batuman, Richard Price, Sam Lipsyte, Roberto Bolano, James Wood, Hans Keilson—confounded even the most charitable expectations of the chains. . . . Now Franzen seems poised to do the same thing on a much, much bigger scale."
This year's Brooklyn Book Festival events have begun to be announced; among the many highlights is a celebration honoring poet John Ashbery, who has won the fest's annual "BoBi" award, and who will appear on Sunday, September 12th in conversation with Paul Auster.
The Independent asks "when did we start reading so much popular philosophy?" From the veteran Alain de Botton, to the sleeper hit Philosophy Bites, from the columns of Julian Baggini, to a new series published by Wiley-Blackwell called "Philosophy for Everyone," it seems the love of wisdom is getting some love back.
The legendary indie-rock label Touch and Go began as a fanzine in Lansing, Michigan in 1979, covering hardcore punk bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, and Die Kruzen. The complete set of Touch and Go's xeroxed screeds, rants, and raves have been collected in a five-hundred-plus page book: Tonight at powerHouse Arena there's a celebration of '80s hardcore with a dual book launch (Touch and Go and Why Be Something You're Not: Detroit Hardcore 1979-1985), signing, and a video screening.