The Reviewer’s Fallacy, Media Men List Creator Comes Forth, and More


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:

“It’s inarguable that the majority of what comes down the pike, in any medium, is mediocre or worse. It would be tiresome for critics to constantly be counting the ways that the work under review is crap, nor would their editors and the owners of the publications they write for be happy with a consistently downbeat arts section. The result is an unconscious inclination to grade on a curve.” Ben Yagoda defines the “Reviewer’s Fallacy” and considers why critics are failing at their task to be critical. (Slate Book Review)

“Fiction must be a quarrel with the times; otherwise why write?” Neel Mukherjee talks with Hanya Yanagihara about what fiction should do and his most recent novel, A State of Freedom. (Literary Hub)

“I’ve learned that protecting women is a position that comes with few protections itself…. The experience of making the spreadsheet has shown me that it is still explosive, radical, and productively dangerous for women to say what we mean.” Writer Moira Donegan has come forward as the creator of the “Shitty Media Men” list, which was meant for women to anonymously share their stories of harassment and assault and warn one another of perpetrators in the media and publishing world. Donegan identified herself after reports that writer Katie Roiphe was going to out her in a forthcoming piece for Harper’s. (Cut)

Roxane Gay has called out the Midwest Writers Workshop organizers for being fatphobic, after they criticized writer Sarah Hollowell’s appearance in their decision to not include her on their organizational committee. (Guardian)“Mote” by Sonic Youth, “Room Above the Bookstore” by Chris Stamey: Book Riot rounds up songs about bookstores.

Adin Dobkin questions the decision to posthumously publish a writer’s work, regardless of their wishes. (Paris Review)

“We come to books looking for the hope in them. And when we close a book, we’re a different person than when we first opened that book. And reading begins a conversation. And my hope is that we can start having these conversations that literature triggers around the country.” Jacqueline Woodson talks with NPR about what she hopes to achieve in her recently announced role as the National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature.

Open Culture surveys recent studies in neuroscience and psychology that show reading increases a person’s theory of mind and cognitive brain function.