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How the Recession Has Hurt Literature
Rick Moody is a postmodern novelist, who has published four novels and a number of non-fiction books and short story collection. Best known for his book "The Ice Storm," which was adapted into a hit movie in 1997, his other books include "Demonology," "Purple America," "The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven," and "Garden State." He is a past recipient of the Addison Metcalf Award and a Guggenheim fellowship. His latest novel, "The Four Fingers of Death," was published in July, 2010.
Question: How has the recession affected literature?
Rick Moody: I think the economy is changing the way people are writing and that writers are more desperate then at any time since I’ve been watching what’s been happening closely. And I worked in publishing in the last big recession in the early 90’s, so I saw some of it at that time. I think people are just really scared that they’re not going to get published at all, and as a result, they’re trying to shoehorn themselves into pretty rigidly formatted kinds of things. One of those formats is conventional realistic contemporary fiction, which doesn’t necessarily... I mean, there are no dead bodies or no robots in that fiction at all. It can still be done—you can try and write like George Elliot and you can potentially get published, but what worries me is you can no longer write like David Foster Wallace, perhaps. That maybe there’s not a place for a first novelist who's experimental in that scale in the way that there was in the '90s.
And indeed, my former students who are out there now trying to get published are having trouble on those lines. It’s the crazy great ones, the kind of mad ones who are really struggling to find people to publish them. And not because the projects don’t have merit, but just because everybody’s looking at Bookscan and they want certain numbers of units to ship and so on. That is going to affect people going forward, not only because we miss out but because when we miss out we then forget that the opportunity exists for that kind of experimental work.
Question: Does the ease of self-publishing online help or hurt fiction writers?
Rick Moody: This is a great idea for me from a democratic point of view, but the thing that I worry about is sort of how we draw attention to those many tens of thousands of novels that are published in that way.
There was a novel by Richard Brautigan in the late '60s called, "The Abortion" that’s about a library that will hold in its collection any manuscript given to them. So it becomes this repository of all the kind of lost, desperate, forgotten manuscripts that people squirreled away in their desk drawers over the years. And in the vast majority of cases, no one reads any of these books of course, but it’s the idea of collecting them that’s important.
In a way, that’s the exact library that you’re describing, the sort of future library of publish-it-yourself-straight-onto-the-Kindle-style manuscripts. The only thing that the big publishing houses have going for them in that environment is that they can editorially select for us, and they can attempt to draw our attention to things. But they have to be willing to do it. They have to be wiling to be more catholic, more polyglot in their interests and intentions. And as long as they’re selling physical books and they’re really desperate and worried about selling enough physical books to meet their sales goals and so on, there’s not that much incentive for them to sort of publish the 400-page manuscript narrated by coffee. You know? Or something with eight different points of view, or multi-generational saga that contains 10 generations. I mean, they’re just not up to it right now.
And I understand why it’s harder for them, but I’m not sure that just allowing all the writers to dump everything onto the kindle is going to solve the problem for us.
Recorded July 28, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman
Fiction writers are more desperate than ever, says the novelist. Scared that they’re not going to get published, they’re trying to shoehorn themselves into rigid—"sellable"—formats.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.