Read here, in the University of Washington’s alumni magazine, about how Marilynne Robinson approaches a book’s essence as “an elaborate needlepoint of decisions and observations”; how novels visit upon her as surprises; and how her recent move to New York might spawn yet another gift to readers.
In 1980, Julio Cortázar gave a series of lectures at Berkeley, which you can now read in the slim, simply-titled volume Literature Class. Among the highlights? This sentence: “I had lived with a complete feeling of familiarity with the fantastic because it seemed as acceptable to me, as possible and as real, as the fact of eating soup at eight o’clock in the evening.”
Sharpen your pencils freelance book reviewers: The Wall Street Journal plans to buck the trend of disappearing book review sections by launching a weekly pull-out. Robert Messenger will edit. The New York Observer takes note of the storylines in play: Rupert Murdoch once again bucking conventional wisdom, The WSJ trying to go head to head with The New York Times in yet another high-profile venue.
Everyone’s been there: the bookstore event at which the reader drones on and on. The Observer shares some reading horror stories (and a few successes). Sarah McNally of NYC’s McNally Jackson bookstore says, “The traditional reading format is broken.”
New York Times travel editor Monica Drake recounts visiting Antigua after reading Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place—a sharp critique of tourism and the colonialist narrative around the island. As she puts it, “For all the drama of its history, […] the beauty of the place, the very thing that bewitches its tourists, renders it a time capsule to its residents.”
Two hotly anticipated collections of stories are out this week: Nathan Englander’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank and Dan Chaon’s Stay Awake. Also new this week are Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Ramona Ausubel’s No One is Here Except All of Us, which she wrote about here recently, Dalkey’s new edition of The Recognitions by William Gaddis, and a new volume of William S. Burroughs’ letters.