Litblog Roundup 38

The Litblog Roundup took a break for Easter. Now I’m back, with a roundup of recently popular items from across the literary Internet. In this roundup: the new book critics in Los Angeles, and speaking of Los Angeles what’s up with that big writers conference that just happened there?

Ten New Book Critics

The L.A. times has hired a whopping ten new book critics.

With these 10 writers, we will investigate our culture through the conversations that books anchor, in deep dives and in real time. We will explore the mysteries of reading and writing; consider the achievements, acknowledged and under-acknowledged, of the writers who have come before; question the roles of race, heritage, class and gender in what we read; take on the vagaries of the publishing industry, and more.

Get to know the new critics by name at the L.A. Times’ Jacket Copy blog. .

Paying Attention to Inattention

It is generally assumed that contemporary culture is plagued by distraction, perhaps more than at any other time in human history. But the problem of inattention isn’t new. It has been discussed since 1710, at least. Frank Furedi is a sociologist and social commentator who has written a post at Aeon with a roundup of the idea of inattention throughout history .

…blaming technology for the rise in inattention is misplaced. History shows that the disquiet is fuelled not by the next new thing but by the threat this thing - whatever it might be - poses to the moral authority of the day. The first time inattention emerged as a social threat was in 18th-century Europe…

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month in the United States and Canada. Amanda Earl has a great post with a roundup of many online resources to help you get in on the action. The Poets.org Tumblr has a list of poetry month events . If you’re feeling too cold or secluded for events, then why not enjoy some e -books and apps to accompany poetry month .

AWP and What it Means

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference has recently concluded in Los Angeles. If you’ve never been, or even if you have and wonder what it’s worth, try the essay, A writer’s solitude vs. AWP: Viet Thanh Nguyen on what we share with others

A conference like AWP pushes the writer and her work out into the public, albeit a sympathetic, literary one. Such an encounter raises the question of audience […] AWP is the logical product of this literary industry, born into existence for the same reason that carmakers and pharmaceutical manufacturers gather together: to share the hottest products and trends, to form new networks and renew old bonds, and, most importantly, to affirm a shared identity and conviction. The distinction for writers is that their solitary trade and calling is at odds with the human need to gather in tribes.


What’s it like to be a famous poet? Is there really such a thing as a famous poet? If there’s any poet who does have a claim to fame, it might just be Eileen Miles. A post on the Poetry Foundation’s blog examines Miles’ work in light of the popularity of its author.

…what are the financial implications of “edginess”? There are maybe only two economic categories for the contemporary image of the Poet: glamorously broke, in a bohemian sort of way (garret apartment, getting by on charm alone), or glamorously rich, in a bohemian sort of way (louche attire, frequent travel, fabulous parties around a built-in stone fire ring). The Tomlin character in Grandma, Elle Reid, of the cut-up credit card sculptures and the broken-down vintage car, occupies the former category. The Cherry Jones character on Transparent, Leslie Mackinaw, of the outdoor hot tub and impressive feminist art collection in the Los Angeles hills, occupies the latter.

In real life, though, Myles is somewhere between: she keeps a sparsely furnished, rent-stabilized apartment in Manhattan and recently bought a house in the artsy rural town of Marfa, Texas. She has no graduate degree and has mostly worked part-time teaching gigs and pieced together literary awards and fellowships. Like most people from working- and middle-class backgrounds, Myles knows there’s no appeal in being actually poor. She has said, “Money is much dirtier than sex ever was. That’s why I write about it.”