Critical Linking: May 16, 2012

While authors in the 18th and 19th centuries are still influenced by previous centuries, authors writing in the late 20th century are instead “strongly influenced” by writers from their own decade.

I guess it is not surprising that authors from the 19th century are still influenced by previous centuries. The real news would be if they somehow weren’t any longer, since they’ve been dead for about a century.


Great art, or, let’s just say, more modestly, original art is never created in the safe middle ground, but always at the edge. Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities.

Those things you read that bother you are more likely to be important than those things you love.


First published in summer 1969, “Naked Came the Stranger” quickly sold 20,000 copies. Later that summer, Mr. McGrady and his co-conspirators came clean, and news of the book’s genesis made headlines round the world. By the end of the year, the novel had spent 13 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.

“What has always worried me,” Mr. McGrady told Newsday in 1990, “are the 20,000 people who bought it before the hoax was exposed.”

Is it too much to hope that this is the story with 50 Shades?


“I privately dubbed our club “The End of Your Life Book Club,” not to remind myself that Mom was dying, but so I would remember that we all are — that you never know what book or conversation will be your last.”

All other book clubs now seem trifling.


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