The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Monday Miscellany

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It is all hands to the pump at The Optimist HQ right now (meetings, deadlines, house maintenance, and vomit-propelled kids), but apologies for the missing links on Friday. Here’s a very quick Monday round-up to make up for it:

Designer Stuart Bache talks to Faceout Books about his John Le Carré covers.

I also talked to Stuart about his designs here.

Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, chooses five books on the impact of the information age at The Browser.

The Writer’s Job — Tim Parks on writing as a career choice:

Creative writing schools are frequently blamed for a growing standardization and flattening in contemporary narrative. This is unfair. It is the anxiety of the writers about being excluded from their chosen career, together with a shared belief that we know what literature is and can learn how to produce it that encourages people to write similar books. Nobody is actually expecting anything very new. Just new versions of the old. Again and again when reading for review, or doing jury service perhaps for a prize, I come across carefully written novels that “do literature” as it is known. Literary fiction has become a genre like any other, with a certain trajectory, a predictable pay off, and a fairly limited and well-charted body of liberal Western wisdom to purvey. Much rarer is the sort of book… where the writer appears, amazingly, to be working directly from experience and imagination, drawing on his knowledge of past literature only in so far as it offers tools for having life happen on the page.

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One Comment

  1. This is wonderful, C. Optimist. I am going to copy and paste the Tim Parks quote to my FaceBook page as well as to my Facebook Page, and credit both him and you for helping me find it. After that, I’ll post a link to the item about cover design — a matter of critical importance to all of us who are turning away from established presses and toward self-publishing — whether our covers contain a “carefully written novel” or something more explosive!

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