Jennifer Egan's Novel Picks, Tortured History of Reviews, and More

Evan Smith Rakoff

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today's stories:

Guests arriving at the two Standard hotels in New York City for the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature next week will receive a gift bag filled with books selected by Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Jennifer Egan. For the Daily Beast, Egan explains each choice.

The Atlantic looks at the tortured history of book reviews (and its detractors). "Fiction and poetry reviews usually aren't written by literature professors or scholars; instead, they're written by freelance writers or columnists, some who are qualified and some who are not."

“George Plimpton did it beautifully. Calvin Trillin does it very well.” Recently, at a restaurant in New York City, literary journal Lapham’s Quarterly hosted a dinner celebrating the art of the toast. (New York Times)

If you missed One Story's third-annual Literary Debutante Ball last week, Electric Literature documented the event, which celebrated seven One Story writers who've published collections this year, and also honored novelist and outspoken bookstore owner Ann Patchett.

Flavorwire rounded up ten famously curmudgeonly authors who are still cranking out books.

How to Cook Everything author Mark Bittman writes of a pilgrimage to visit his friend, who he calls "the soul of the real food movement," Kentucky author Wendell Berry. (New York Times)

Something that may be applicable to creative writing—author Annie Murphy Paul discusses learning through “productive failure." (Time)

The Poetry Society of New York hopes to secure funding for its second-annual NYC Poetry Festival on Kickstarter. (GalleyCat)

With Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh published earlier this month, the second of three volumes of Susan Sontag’s journals and notebooks, the New Yorker asks: "Can we ever know Sontag?"