• August 12, 2015

    The Intercept turns the surveillance tables on an NSA analyst, the so-called “Socrates of SIGINT,” who, it turns out, also writes fiction.

    Jonathan Franzen

    Jonathan Franzen

    At the Atlantic, Caleb Crain reviews the new Jonathan Franzen. Surely it must be nearly time for Nell Zink to share her thoughts too.

    The still-newish New Republic is redesigning itself, more or less eliminating any distinction between the print and web versions along the way. No matter what they do, former literary editor Leon Wieseltier is predictably unimpressed.

    Electric Literature and Black Balloon Publishing are going to publish books together—Catapult will be open for submissions (no agent required) between April and October every year.

    Meanwhile, we’re finally getting round to replacing fiction writers with something more efficient—as of this year there’s even a short-story prize for algorithms. The Guardian quotes William Chamberlain, who was involved with an early version of computer-program fiction in the 1980s, as saying: “I find intriguing the possibility that we human beings, whose very consciousness is a faculty completely interwoven with experience, may relate in some way to a form of ‘sentence’ that has no experiential grounding.” (Though of course, you don’t have to be a bot to produce one of those.)

    Elena Ferrante’s “small bet with myself . . . that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors,” which she explained to her publishers in 1991, before her first novel was published, has been paying off for a long time now (and other novelists are starting to express their envy in the comments section).

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