Editorial Essays

Editorial Essays-43
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We accept submissions only in the spring, for publication in the following winter.

Our deadline for submissions for the 2019 issue is April 30th, 2019.

Submissions should be sent via e-mail to [email protected], and should include a current C. We adhere to the citation guidelines set forth in ed.

The editors prefer to work with manuscripts that are between 2,500 and 5,000 words in length, not counting notes, tables, and charts.

One of the first things I did when I arrived at the , a novel I greatly admire. I praised of “taking down” writers like Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen, and Don De Lillo. For one thing, no review ever does “take down” a writer: the writer has a way of popping up very punctually, three or four years later, with another offering.

It’s not a “negative” piece, and is all the more horrifying for the mildness of its dismissal. For another, a serious critique, of the kind I have written of , a book I praised at length for its humane and moving rewriting of De Lillo yet criticized for its residual and contradictory enthrallment to a De Lilloian idea of the paranoid “social novel,” be seen as “a takedown”?

I try to be on guard for such failures of judgment and tact myself. And I agree with the commonplace that a critic who cannot praise is no critic at all: over the years, in the , I have written in praise, and often at considerable length, of Norman Rush (I have sometimes felt like this writer’s lone defender), José Saramago, Saul Bellow, Graham Swift, Jeffrey Eugenides, Philip Roth, Victor Pelevin, Alan Hollinghurst, Amit Chaudhuri, Monica Ali, Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Lethem, Kazuo Ishiguro, Muriel Spark, J. I have been hard on Toni Morrison, on John Updike, on Pynchon and De Lillo, on Julian Barnes and Martin Amis and Ian Mc Ewan, on Robert Stone and Salman Rushdie, but those writers have at least felt reviewed by a critic who is vigilantly watching their style; who considers fiction the most important occupation they could be performing; who is always urging such writers: “Write better!

” It is like the Augustinian version of theodicy: novelists would far rather live in a universe in which negative reviews have the freedom to exist than in one from which such reviews had been banished.

For all questions, please contact the editors at [email protected]

; but it was itself a wholly negative attack on negativity. One of the editors, Keith Gessen, could be found on the last page of the magazine writing: “It is time to say what you mean.” Indeed, but what do you mean?

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