New Hires at the New York Times Books Desk, the Art of the Fake Dear Prudence Letter, and More

by Staff

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

The Books desk at the New York Times has announced three new hires. Molly Young and Alexandra Jacobs have been brought on as staff critics, while Jennifer Wilson will join the Book Review as a contributing essayist. The Times now has four staff critics, as Young and Jacobs will work alongside Dwight Garner and Jennifer Szalai.

“Writing fake letters to advice columns could not be considered a good career move; after all, it was unpaid and I wouldn’t even get a byline out of it. On the other hand, it was easy and creatively fulfilling.” Young adult author Bennett Madison writes about devising entertaining yet plausible letters to submit to the Dear Prudence column at Slate. (Gawker)

“We are all grieving the loss of big things and small things. But some of us are rushing into a collective denial of death and loss.” Essayist Tressie McMillan Cottom questions if and how she can feel empathy for those who flout the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. She consults Martha M. Crawford, a friend, psychotherapist, and clinical social worker, for advice.

“Re: Writer’s Block. Perhaps more should have it. Perhaps the disease, the dilemma, the affliction is trying to tell the writer something. Much that is being produced is unnecessary, indulgent.” Joy Williams uses a typewriter to answer Literary Hub’s questions about writing advice, favorite books, and inspiration.

Due to the ongoing risks of the pandemic, the Texas Book Festival, which was already scheduled as a hybrid program, has made further cuts to its in-person programming. The festival will compensate with more virtual events. Virtual programming is set to run from October 23 to October 31, while in-person events are slated for October 30 and October 31. (Publishers Weekly)

“I live in an especially libertarian bit of the USA, so I see a struggle to the death between what we owe to our community and our individual freedoms.” Lauren Groff writing and living through unsettling political and environmental realities. (Guardian)

Zibby Owens, best known for her podcast Moms Don’t Have Time to Read, is preparing to launch her own press, Zibby Books, with Leigh Newman, who will serve as president and editorial director. (Publishers Weekly)

Calvin Kasulke notes seven books with “conceits that dominate the form and/or content of the book.” (Electric Literature)