My Favorite Lit-Blog Things: August 19, 2009

Film adaptation of “The Brothers Karamazov” ends where most people stop reading the book.

For something just as fictional and entertaining, but containing even sharper social commentary, try Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”. This short story link sparked by the comments to the post “Consider Phlebas” over at Pechorin’s Journal.

The Times inexplicably calls Dan Brown “the defining author of our time.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a top 10 list: What they’re reading on college campuses. It is slightly more heartening than the Dan Brown article.

The Virginia Quarterly Review has an interesting essay by Adam Kirsch titled “Lionel Trilling and Allen Ginsberg: Liberal Father, Radical Son”.

Kevin From Canada continues working his way through the Booker longlist providing excellent reviews as he goes. His latest review is of Sarah Hall’s How to Paint a Dead Man.

Dzanc Books launched The Collagist, an online literary magazine, which includes a cheery Gordon Lish short story.

This last item is not really a favorite. The Guardian has reported disturbing revelations about William Golding. He “admitted in private papers that he had tried to rape a 15-year-old girl during his teenage years.” The article does not give enough detail to judge how horrid another poor decision was, but he apparently conducted Lord of the Flies like experiments with his students, having one group of boys attack another.
The question of whether a work of art (e.g. Lord of the Flies) is diminished by or ought to be judged in light of the fact that the creator is despicable are unfortunately newly relevant.


8 Responses to My Favorite Lit-Blog Things: August 19, 2009

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    I *do* like these Litblog round-ups – they’re a succinct feed into all sorts of interesting bits and pieces – and you’ve done all the hard work of finding them!

  2. Kerry says:

    Thank you so much, Lisa. I was not so sure they were value-added content, but I like to share the interesting (to me) things I find. But I am happy to know someone likes them. And others follow the links…..

  3. Sarah says:

    I was interested in your link regarding Golding. (Although I did not follow it; the information you provided is sufficient.)

    I have been thinking about this recently, as various authors are tasked with having been depressed, or on the autistic spectrum, or, specifically thinking of Maupassant, syphilitic, courtesy of a prostitute.

    In Maupassant’s case it makes me inclined to judge his sometimes mysogynistic work less harshly. But it is this right? Is it justifiable? I have drawn no conclusions yet, but continue to muse…

    The links are a great idea. I watch the main on-line presences, but your sources seem a little more exotic. Can’t imagine how you find time to read, blog, and track down all the lit news!

  4. Cliff Knoetz says:

    Dear Miss,

    I felt compelled to comment regarding your aboved link above, reading The Times inexplicably calls Dan Brown “the defining author of our time.” Sadly I cannot find grounds to disagree with the assessment, and I suspect that if you look deep into your heart you will be forced to agree. When one considers his awesome descriptive range and the tumultuous flow of his creative “juice”, it is little wonder that he finds himself dominating best seller lists with books he has yet to even have had published.

    Of course, to claim he is the best author of our time would be a different erroneous. In my ongoing analysis of the “popular” genre of thriller writing I have compared and contrasted several notable works, including them of Brown, and discovered to my delight that it is my own series of opuses, currently unavailable in print, to which that accolade deserves. My creation, Agent Don Brawn, is swiftly proving himself to be a prince amongst literary herpes, and there can be little doubt he will one day be king.

    I will look forward to encountering a similar link to a similar article celebrating that most dissimilar of herpes – and myself, the proud bearer – in the anticipatory future.

    Yours with the greatest of respect, etc.

    Cliff Knoetz

  5. Kerry says:


    I am not actually a Miss.

    You are right that there is a difference between “the defining author of our time” and the “best” author. I would not describe Mr. Brown using either term. However, if you are correct that your own work will soon eclipse Dan Brown’s in the public arena, I suppose this discussion will be quickly rendered moot.

    The best of luck.

    • Cliff Knoetz says:

      Oh. I’m sorry, I have a cold.

      Regarding Brown’s epoch defining authorial voice, I return in memory to those glory days of 2007 when I was regularly out about town on the streets of Leeds, West Yorkshire. At such times, one would regularly encounter contemporary youths barely able to string a sentence together, perambulating with the aid of the knuckles, mindlessly clutching at one another’s trouser fronts and, indeed, often at their own.

      With this charming image in mind, citing Brown as a cultural figurehead seems not so much realistic as necessary. As a society we need an excuse, however feeble, if not a scapegoat to burn and dance around.

      Fraternally yours, I now realise,


      • Kerry says:

        No apologies necessary.

        I truly thank you for your vivid comments. You bring a perspective with which I cannot argue. Perhaps I was too rash in my judgment. Perhaps the description of Dan Brown is more explicable than I realized in my haste.

        Your points are duly noted. I will ruminate on them at length.


  6. Kerry says:


    Like you, I have drawn no definite conclusions. On the one hand, I generally like the idea that works of art stand alone. On the other hand, I cannot emotionally separate the work from an author I find morally repugnant. The work has not changed, but my feelings toward it have. I do not know that there is a right answer, but the question troubles me.

    As for reading, blogging, and tracking lit-news, I do my best. I would like to a do a little better. But thank you.

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