Saturday, November 27, 2010

Photograph: This Good Earth

by Jennifer Lobsenz

The Economics of Writing

"MFA programs today serve less as hotbeds of fierce stylistic inculcation, or finishing workshops for almost-ready writers (in the way of, say, Iowa in the '70s) and more as ingenious partial solutions to an eminent American problem: how to extend our already protracted adolescence past 22 towards 30, in order to cope with an oversupplied labor market."

Chad Harbach over at Slate, via N + 1, on the divide between MFA programs and the New York publishing industry.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Marry or Burn

went to see Seattle actor Megan Cole read from my friend Valerie Trueblood's book, Marry or Burn, last night at Elliott Bay. The book is great; if you like unflinching literary fiction, I highly recommend you pick it up. It was a pleasure to watch Cole perform as well.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wilding Review

The Collagist
has published my review of Benjamin Percy's The Wilding. Have a look.

The Tea Party and History

A brilliant article by Corey Robin in the new Harper's places the Tea Party in the context of the conservative tradition:

"People on the left often fail to realize this, but conservatism does indeed speak to and for people who have lost something. The loss may be as material as a portion of one's income or as ethereal as a sense of standing. It may be of something that was never legitimately owned in the first place. Even so, nothing is ever so cherished as that which we no longer possess...The chief aim of the loser is not preservation or protection but recovery and restoration, and that is the secret of conservatism's success. Because his losses are recent, the conservative can credibly claim that his goals are practical and achievable. Whereas the left's program of redistribution raises the question of whether its beneficiaries are truly prepared to wield the powers they seek, the conservative project of restoration suffers from no such problem. Unlike the revolutionary, moreover, who faces the nearly impossible task of empowering the powerless, the conservative asks his followers to do more of what they have always done."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Stephen Elliott Interview

An interesting interview with Stephen Elliott over at 12th Street about the genesis of The Rumpus, the relative badness of most web publications, and why the world doesn't need billionaires.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reasons to Be Optimistic About the Midterm Election

For weeks now--maybe even months--the media narrative has been that the Democrats are going to get destroyed in the midterm election. I've been skeptical, for a variety of reasons (ranging from my own hardheadedness to the
Republican party's apparent repugnance). But I've also been skeptical of lopsided polls (such as this one that put Republicans up more than ten points), since I figured they were probably heavily skewed towards older people with landlines, who, as a whole, tend to vote much more conservative than their younger counterparts.

Now Nate Silver, the election oracle over at Five Thirty Eight, has cited "the cellphone effect" as the number one reason why Democrats might do better than pundits are expecting. A study by the Pew Research center concludes that a failure to include cell phone users--who are typically younger, more urban, and less white--could "bias the polls" by 4 percent or more. Which could be the difference in any number of close races.

I remain optimistic. The Republicans might win the House, but it won't be nearly as bad as everyone has been predicting. I just wish Silver had written this article a week ago.