Have You Read These Yet?

By Neal Comment

Motoko Rich has a great story in this morning’s NYT arts section about the rift running through the Poetry Society of America that has led to five resignations from the board of directors in the last few months. Basically, Walter Mosley, among others, was pissed that the Society gave a major award to John Hollander, whose critical thoughts on contemporary poetry might or might not include sentiments that wouldn’t seem out of place in a dinner conversation with Bill O’Reilly at Sylvia’s. Like the NYTBR piece where he appears to dismiss West Africa, Mexico, and Central America as “cultures without literature.” Although, actually, most of the resignations came after board president William Louis-Dreyfus accused fellow members who complained about the situation of “McCarthyism.” Concerning the fallout, he tells Rich, “I have no regrets, just as I would have none if I’d lived in McCarthy’s days and had not succumbed to that particular hysteria.” Louis-Dreyfus was in his early twenties during the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, so what’s with that curious if?

⇒Nearly a month ago, or so it feels like, I gave an interview to a journalist named Jennie Yabroff about the current trend towards “gimmick memoirs,” in particular the writers who are “saying no to so much of modern life,” which is how you unite a group as disparate as A.J. Jacobs and Barbara Kingsolver. My voluminous thoughts on the subject are edited down to one pithy remark: “We’re such a hyperaffluent society, what else is left for us to do than take things away from our lives?”

⇒I had no idea David Allen, one of my favorite productivity experts, was blogging on the Huffington Post! This week, he talks about the importance of establishing what’s on your mind. “The thought itself is just a beginning,” Allen reminds readers, “and if we care at all that it brings value or improvement, we probably need to capture it, clarify what it means to us, and organize the actions and information embedded or associated with it.” Amen. (Note: If you’ve already read Getting Things Done, you know the spiel already, but if you haven’t, and you’re feeling overwhelmed by work—which is probably 90% of the publishing industry workforce—you might want to check out the post.)