May 5, 2014

The novel is dead (again). It will still be “be written and read,” Will Self argues in the the Guardian, “but it will be an art form on a par with easel painting or classical music: confined to a defined social and demographic group, requiring a degree of subsidy, a subject for historical scholarship rather than public discourse.”

Hassan Blasim

Hassan Blasim

Twitter is dead too, the Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance and Robinson Meyer held last week: “Its users are less active than they were before.” Twitter says that this reflects “a more streamlined experience”; LaFrance and Meyer think its a sign of Twitter’s “twilight.” Maybe the problem with Twitter was that the idea was “so good, and so perfectly fit such a large market, that they never needed to go through the process of achieving product market fit”? Either way, Will Oremus at Slate isn’t worried. Twitter is more like YouTube than Facebook, he suggests, and is only likely to become more that way: “Don’t be surprised to see Twitter…[turn] its home page into a real-time news platform accessible to anyone, whether they’re logged in or not. That would expand its potential user base to include, for the first time, the majority of Americans. . . . If and when that happens, I doubt we’ll be hearing much about Twitter’s growth problem—let alone its demise.” Shares of Twitter ended on Friday at $39.01, and could drop toward $30. But it’s still over-priced, Reuters points out.

An interview with Hassan Blasim, author of The Corpse Exhibition, a collection of stories about Iraq. “I still write in literary Arabic but I try to rid it of the rhetoric, the symbolism, and the stuff that ordinary people don’t understand,” Blasim says of his style.

The new magazine Modern Farmer is getting a lot of attention after winning a National Magazine Award.

What was it like having Philip Roth as a professor?