On the occasion of Scribner’s publication of the “Restored Edition” of A Moveable Feast, Gioia Diliberto, biographer of Ernest Hemingway’s wife Hadley, writes of her discovery of the Hadley Hemingway tapes.
Mark Athitakiswrites about the National Book Award in 1980, “an interesting time for the prize.” The previous year, publishers pulled out of the awards, contending according to an NYT article, “the awards favored little-read books.” (This criticism resurfaced in 2004.) After 1980, the festivities ballooned to eight fiction categories before eventually being scaled back in subsequent years. (via Maud)
In Slate, Nathaniel Richwonders why “the most peaceful people on earth [Scandinavians] write the greatest homicide thrillers.”
The “Significant Objects project,” in which worthless trinkets are sold on eBay along with original fiction written about said worthless trinkets, has launched. Participants include Curtis Sittenfeld, Lydia Millet, Matthew Sharpe, Sam Lipsyte, and a few dozen others. The eBay auctions can be found here.
“We all read from different places, different backgrounds, and my meeting with Proust or Woolf, or Lydia Davis or J. M. Coetzee, will not be yours, nor should it be. On the other hand I do believe reading is an active skill, an art even, certainly not a question of passive absorption. … [so] there must be techniques and tools that everyone can use or try, even if we use them differently.” Tim Parks explains how he reads for The New York Review of Books.
“Say surrender. Say alabaster. Switchblade. / Honeysuckle. Goldenrod. Say autumn. / Say autumn despite the green
in your eyes. Beauty despite / daylight. Say you’d kill for it. Unbreakable dawn / mounting in your throat. / My thrashing beneath you / like a sparrow stunned / with falling.” Last week, Ocean Vuong published his newest collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds. This week, it seems to be all anyone can talk about (because it’s fantastic). Here’s a piece from The New Yorkeron Vuong and his designs for the English language.
Man Booker judge Colin Thubron expressed frustration with gushing book blurbs, which he says “almost blackmail” readers: “you’re either intellectually or morally incompetent if you don’t love this book or you’ve failed if you haven’t understood it.” Our own Bill Morris tackled the age old question—”To Blurb or not Blurb”—a few years ago.
Mark Twain first rose to fame as the author of an essay about a frog-jumping contest in California. Originally titled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” the essay went viral in America’s biggest newspapers, eventually inspiring the New York Tribune to write of Twain that “no reputation was ever so rapidly won.” Yet the humor which made the essay so popular is often lost on modern audiences, in no small part because, as Ben Turnoffwrites in Lapham’s Quarterly, frontier humor isn’t funny if there’s no Wild West.