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Famous Baby Boomer novelist sees younger people win awards, declares novels now dead

Philip Roth No Longer Reading Fiction - NYTimes.com
Whether you’re interested in Philip Roth’s critical exegesis of “A Visit From the Goon Squad,” his contrarian take on “Freedom” or just curious to know what he thinks of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” his answer is likely to be the same: He probably hasn’t read them because he is no longer reading fiction at all. In an interview with The Financial Times, Mr. Roth, the ornery author more than two dozen novels (the FT credits him with 53 books) including “Portnoy’s Complaint,” “The Human Stain” and “Nemesis,” said that other people’s literary inventions are no longer part of his diet. “I’ve stopped reading fiction,” he said. “I don’t read it at all. I read other things: history, biography. I don’t have the same interest in fiction that I once did.” Asked why he came to this position, Mr. Roth said: “I don’t know. I wised up.” The Financial Times said Mr. Roth was not expected to be in London on Tuesday when he will be celebrated as the winner of the Man Booker International Prize, a literary award honoring his lifetime achievements. Carmen Callil, a former judge for that prize, probably wishes that she had the same discretion to read or not read other people’s books. When Mr. Roth was named the winner she quit the panel in protest, saying, “I don’t rate him as a writer at all.”

June 22, 2011

The key to a great high school is to only let in smart, driven students with supportive families

pandagon.net - it's the eye of the panda, it's the thrill of the bite
Newsweek has released its list of America's best high schools, which reveal one startling key to a great high school: selectively screening all but the highest achieving children. This is not a lamentation on bias towards smart kids - that's pretty much the last problem you'd ever find with these rankings. Instead, the issue is the idea that there's anything useful to be gained from a ranking system that penalizes schools for providing state-mandated education to all members of the community. If American high schools could screen for students with high rates of academic success, high likelihood of going to college and home environments that encouraged both of those qualities, then we'd have the best high school system in the world...coupled with a permanent underclass even less mobile than it currently is. While it's great that there are environments for select smart kids to thrive and prosper, the vast majority of American high schools don't have the luxury of refusing to let in students who might mess with the good thing they've got going on.

June 21, 2011

The 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults In History

Flavorwire -- The 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults In History
4. Mark Twain on Jane Austen (1898) “I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” 3. Virginia Woolf on James Joyce “[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.” 2. William Faulkner on Mark Twain (1922) “A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven sure fire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.”