- It’s not online but “The Boy Who Had Never Seen The Sea” by newly named Nobel laureate Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio appears in this week’s New Yorker. See our recent guest post about publishing Le Clézio.
- In last week’s New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell was back, this time talking about “genius.” His guinea pigs were Ben Fountain and Jonathan Safran Foer.
- The headline says it all: “Karl Marx’s book sells as Germany economy sinks.”
- “The _______of________“
- The fall issue of The Quarterly Conversation has arrived.
In general, we think of translators as people whose job, briefly summarized, is to create elegant texts out of works in foreign languages. But J.R.R. Tolkien, in his translation of Beowulf, set out to do something different. The Lord of the Rings author published a translation that he kept intentionally clunky. Why? In his telling, he did it to better imitate Old English.
There There by Tommy Orange is one of our most anticipated books of the year. It debuts next week and this week Orange receives the New York Times treatment along with a few other rising star indigenous writers in an excellent profile. "Mr. Orange is part of a new generation of acclaimed indigenous writers from the United States and Canada who are publishing groundbreaking, formally innovative poetry, fiction and prose, shattering old tropes and stereotypes about Native American literature, experience and identity. Their ranks include poets like Layli Long Soldier, Natalie Diaz, Joshua Whitehead and Tommy Pico, and the essayists and memoirists Elissa Washuta and Terese Marie Mailhot.
I'd heard that the New Yorker excerpt was the opening of Jonathan Franzen's new novel Freedom, but it turns out it is preceded in the novel by this: "The news about Walter Berglund wasn't picked up locally--he and Patty had moved away to Washington two years earlier and meant nothing to St. Paul now--but the urban gentry of Ramsey Hill were not so loyal to their city as not to read the New York Times. According to a long and very unflattering story in the Times, Walter had made quite a mess of his professional life out there in Washington. His old neighbors had some difficulty reconciling the quotes about him in the Times ('arrogant,' 'high-handed,' 'ethically compromised') with the generous, smiling, red-faced 3M employee they remembered pedaling his commuter bicycle up Summit Avenue in February snow; it seemed strange that Walter, who was greener than Greenpeace and whose own roots were rural, should be in trouble now for conniving with the coal industry and mistreating country people. Then again, there had always been something not quite right about the Berglunds."
"Skipping or skimming parts of a narrative should not only be expected but encouraged, particularly if an author is writing without clarity or purpose or showing off. Life’s too short to slog through some smarty-pants attempt to demonstrate a mastery of mechanical engineering or botany." Adam Kirsch and Anna Holmes face off for The New York Times Bookends column about whether there are right and wrong ways to read a book.
Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit and Unbroken, discusses her life with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. "I'm looking for a way out of here. I can't have it physically, so I'm going to have it intellectually. It was a beautiful thing to ride Seabiscuit in my imagination."