February 16th, 2012 / 6:05 pm

Thursday Reading

Cathy Day is doing a survey about the place of the novel in MFA programs. Both students and faculty are encouraged to participate. You can do so here.

The Millions has assembled a nice compendium of literary Tumblrs. Also at The Millions, Nick Ripatrazone, writes about compensation and literary magazines.

Starting here, The Believer hosts a three-part conversation between Vanessa Veselka and Lidia Yuknavitch.Part 2 is here and Part 3 is here.

There’s been some conversation across different magazines and websites about fact checking, truth, and creative nonfiction. The New Yorker chimes in.

Sugar of Dear Sugar renown has revealed her identity–it’s author of Torch and Wild (forthcoming), Cheryl Strayed. She talks to Book Bench.

Scientists are uprising! Against Elsevier! Pocket protectors unite!

Michael Chabon co-wrote the screenplay for John Carter. This article looks at money and writing and Chabon and such. Ayelet Waldman responded on Twitter and that was awesome.

Here’s a little something on the history of monsters.

Publishing via Facebook….

I don’t like pennies.


  1. bartleby_taco

      From what I’ve read…am I in the minority for sympathizing more with D’Agata than not? I’ve only read the Harper’s excerpt, but what I read I thought was very funny/interesting, and felt that the major ‘thrust’ of it was that D’Agata and Fingal are simply not connecting re: an ‘epistemological model’ — how different permutations of “truth” (whatever that word means) have proliferated within the history of the narrative arts to the point by which writing fictions within a non-fiction text is in many ways indistinguishable from writing non-fiction in non-fictional texts. Or uhh somthin

  2. Anonymous
  3. deadgod

      Well, if you’re not in the minority, then I am, ha ha. 

      I think Goldfield is right:  true words, or beautiful words is a “preposterous” dilemma, and (going by the Harper’s slice of the exchange) D’Agata is “delusional”–and not in a, what, ‘creative’ way.  (To complain that he’s non-collaborative beyond the point of “hostil[ity]” is a red herring, to me, because worrying about that seems to give his lying a ‘creativity’ pass.)

      One joker made the point well in the thread to the NYer piece:  why go from “thirty-one” only to “thirty-four” strip joints in Vegas for the sake of beauty or affect? why not say there’re “five hundred” strip joints?

      –or we could use a different permutation of truth:  the kid who jumped from the building was found with his erection in his hand.  He landed on an eight-year-old kid, and 10,000 kiddie-porn photos had been downloaded onto his computer.  He’d converted to Islam in the weeks before his suicide and was ostentatiously praying towards Mecca five times daily.

      He left a note saying that he couldn’t bear to live in a country that would, in just a few years, elect a “fucking nigger President”.  Wouldn’t that premonitory judgement make a beautiful story!

      ‘lax–it’s not journalism, for Christ’s sake – it’s fiction within a non-fiction text–albeit in many ways indistinguishable from non-fiction in a non-fiction text.

  4. deadgod

      I “Like” how two of the the-facebook comments were ‘liked’ – once.  (–by, respectively, the creditor and a random “pretty girl”?)

  5. bartleby_taco

      This actually made me laugh out, and as insensitive of me as it may sound, that sounds like a good story. But I understand your problems with my contentious claims hehe! In the case of D’Agata’s writing his ‘creative changes’ do seem a little silly, in that the supposed ‘artistry’ gained by making false claims seems to be negligible (and the risk taken by bending the truth exceeds the ‘merit’ of the ‘creativity’) — but I still stand by point that in a POST BAUDRILLARD WORLD (sorry) this kind of stuff is certainly slippery and certain inventions (if not pernicious) can perhaps be as ‘true’ as anything factual, though I understand that that does sound lofty and cop-out-ish…I guess maybe a good analogy for this is a lot of rap music? Like — I don’t believe even a third of what many rappers have claimed they’ve done but the performance is what matters because that’s what contributes to the general aesthetic and lyrical conceit of the music. Something like that?

  6. Kate

      When forced to legally define what their music constituted, early in its evolution, rappers quickly lined up at the Art Yo registration desk; I can rap about this because it’s art, not reality, and that’s a line that’s toed and toed.

      When forced to legally define what D’Agata’s article was, their lawyers specified it to me as Cake You Can Have & Eat.

  7. deadgod

      –well, then you’re a racist.  Hi!!

      I agree that an intersubjectively rational ‘truth’ can be “slippery”, but that’s no reason to relax one’s grip altogether; rather, getting ahold is the impetus and entelechy of conversation itself, no? both with oneself and with others.

      Pure objectivity:  chimerical at best, unwitting, pretentious, and totalitarian-tending as one’s lunges in such a direction get worse.  But nobody’s asking D’Agata to be absolutely objective!  An apparently miserable young man jumps off a roof, and to D’Agata that’s Meaningful.  Okay; tell the kid’s story.  Or make one up.  –but make up the kid’s story??  You know, when Rove/Cheney did that, it was and is easy to see how sleazy and destructive their bullshit was.  (Taking on board how suspicious one should be about jumping ‘easily’ to conclusions, but the arguments exposing phony Hard Intel and against lying in that context just ‘to win’ with a weak case are “easy” in a different sense than that of mere comfort.)

      Poets, similarly to but also differently from historians, are liars in a way and in ways not.  Pettifoggery, as Kate points out?  You might have to point me towards a particular case for me to see clearly what you mean.  There are people who take rappers’ boasts – and Columbine-type promises – seriously indeed.  Probably an ad hoc approach is the way to go, one like the pragmatism(s) most people resort to to take care of themselves in everyday life.

  8. Anonymous