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Literary Links

“A Nation of Lunatics.” What Oscar Wilde Thought About America

“Rob Marland on the Irish Writer’s Grand Tour of the Gilded Age United States”

This article caught my eye because I had just finished catching up on the second season of the HBO series The Gilded Age, which includes a trip to the opera by New York’s upper crust on the same night that Oscar Wilde attended. I’m guessing that Gilbert and Sullivan’t Patience is the production they all saw that night.

I didn’t get the credit for my bestselling book: the secret life of the celebrity ghost writer

“There’s nothing quite like finding six new releases on display in a bookstore – all of which you’ve written, and none of which has your name on it.”

Liam Pieper describes his lonely but well paid job as a ghost writer. His employment, he says, increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he “became very busy writing memoirs for celebrities. Because they couldn’t work in entertainment any more, they all decided to become authors.”

Is It A Betrayal To Publish Dead Writers’ Books?

“Inside the ethically thorny world of posthumous publishing.”

Here’s an introduction to one of the hottest recent controversies in the publishing world, the publication of Until August, the work Gabriel García Márquez left unfinished at the time of his death in 2014. The author had told his sons, “This book doesn’t work. It must be destroyed.”

Writing in Esquire, Alex Belth concludes:

As far as the morality of posthumous publications goes, I’ve come to view them on a case-by-case basis. Yes, the writer’s intentions should be honored whenever possible, but there should be no absolutes. Let’s face it: a certain amount of ruthless exploitation is endemic to the writer’s life in the first place. The writer always steals from life, and from everyone around them . . .

 Would It Really Be Better to Never See Gabriel García Márquez’s Final Book?

In the New York Times, Álvaro Santana-Acuña, a sociology professor at Whitman College and a scholar of Gabriel García Márquez, weighs in on the publication of Until August

Nobody denies that “Until August” is the unpolished work of an aging master. It should be read as such. The heirs of artists must serve their wishes, but also their legacy — which is sometimes served best by making their works, however imperfect, available to readers for generations to come.

It’s Time for Publishers to Tell the Truth About Posthumously Published Books

Finally, Rebecca Joines Schinsky asks for a more nuanced approach to the answering the question of the ethics of posthumous publication: “Publishers do readers and authors alike a disservice when they misrepresent the nature of posthumously published work to make it more commercially appealing, and literary executors fail their charges when they agree to this packaging.”

How ‘Dune’ became a beacon for the fledgling environmental movement − and a rallying cry for the new science of ecology

Devin Griffiths, associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California, writes here that Frank Herbert, author of Dune, “wanted to tell a story about the environmental crisis on our own planet, a world driven to the edge of ecological catastrophe.” But Griffiths doesn’t talk about the influence on Herbert of what he saw in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington.

Foreground: Sign reading "Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park." Background: Blue sky over blue water, with mountains beyond.

You can see photos and read about Dune Peninsula, a park “built on the ruins of a historic lead-and-copper smelter,” here: Tacoma’s Real-Life “Dune.”

I Used to Cringe at Self-Help Books. Until This One Changed My Life.

Jillian Steinhauer, a critic and reporter, writes about The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, a beloved staple among writers and others who depend on their creativity to earn a living and nourish the world.

Loving “The Artist’s Way” feels strangely embarrassing — because it’s less rational than it is sincere. But as Cameron knows, authenticity is the best place for an artist to begin.

The Virtue of Slow Writers

I’m an advocate of slow reading, but what about slow writing? Writer Lauren Alwan addresses that question in this short article. Here’s her advice: “know when to let go, keep faith in the process, be flexible, fail better, and whenever possible, stay astonished. Though perhaps most importantly, recognize the value that comes with the passing of time itself.”

The Great American Novels

The Atlantic explains the phrase the great American novel and offers its list of 136 novels that meet its definition:

In setting out to identify that new American canon, we decided to define American as having first been published in the United States (or intended to be—read more in our entries on Lolita and The Bell Jar). And we narrowed our aperture to the past 100 years—a period that began as literary modernism was cresting and contains all manner of literary pleasure and possibility, including the experimentations of postmodernism and the narrative satisfactions of genre fiction. . . . novels that say something intriguing about the world and do it distinctively, in intentional, artful prose.

Feel free to discuss these choices in the comments.

© 2024 by Mary Daniels Brown

4 thoughts on “Literary Links”

  1. Posthumous publication is a thorny question, particularly when the author has expressed a wish to have a manuscript either not be published or actually destroyed. I think an appropriate compromise would be for those manuscripts not to be destroyed by the executor of the writer’s literary estate, but donated with the author’s papers to a university library and made available to scholars.

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