paper trail

Matthew Salesses on the shortcomings of writing workshops, Maya Binyam’s LA culture diary

Matthew Salesses

The Paris Review Daily is bringing back their “Culture Diary” column. Today, the site posted a dispatch from Los Angeles by Maya Binyam. Of Elif Batuman’s new novel, Binyam writes, “Almost every review I’ve read of Either/Or mentions Selin’s naive and enthusiastic embrace of great works of literature, which she reads as instruction manuals for how to construct a life; none mentions her stated difficulty in appreciating hip-hop, which she summarizes as an altogether alienating genre of music defined by a man ‘saying “Uh, uh” in the background.’”

For The Guardian, Janina Ramirez lists ten books about women who have been written out of history. Ramirez’s new book, Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages Through the Women Written Out, was just published in the UK. 

In Commonweal magazine, Eve Tushnet writes about Matthew Salesses’s recent book Craft in the Real World, which is about, in part, the ways in which traditional writers’ classes fail students of color. Tushnet writes, “This is not a book attacking the Follow Your Dreams industry. But he does highlight narrative structures, themes, and interpretations of experience that American fiction instruction disregards or discredits.”  

Adweek reports on the acquisition of the feminst satire site Reductress by Phenomenal Media. 

Jared Marcel Pollen reviews Helen Dewitt’s latest short novel, The English Understand Wool. The book doubles as an indictment of the conservatism of book publishers, which Pollen dissects, noting that “The responsibility of publishing serious work has been largely ceded to small presses (whose good work shouldn’t be overlooked) that are willing to take chances on authors like Ben Lerner and Joshua Cohen, who are then collected by the mainstream and rewarded once they prove successful.”

Next Thursday, August 18, the New York Review of Books and Community Bookstore in Brooklyn are hosting an event with poet Vivek Narayanan, whose new collection is After.