The Infinite Summer online book club, brain child of Matthew Baldwin, has finally completed Infinite Jest. To celebrate, they are reading Dracula. Steven Lowman briefly interviews Baldwin at the Washington Post blog Short Stack.
In Case You Missed It: This email exchange between playwright Sarah Ruhl and the late Max Ritvo, whose Four Reincarnations is out next week: “I think my mind is a set of lapis lazuli steps falling apart, and all I want is to be told ‘it’s alright, we rebuild it every day’ But what is the it? What is it? And if I was vaporized by a ray gun but was then replaced instantly by an identical person with an identical filigree of nerves shot through with identical sparks cased in an identical skull—would it still be me? I don’t think so. I don’t know if even a perfect Reincarnation would be a Reincarnation to me, in my heart. I’m starting to feel like Theseus and I just want my fucking ship out of the dry-dock and back on the water.”
New this week: How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball; I Am No One by Patrick Flanery; The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon; The Trap by Melanie Raabe; Absalom’s Daughters by Suzanne Feldman; The Dream Life of Astronauts by Patrick Ryan; and Angels of Detroit by Christopher Hebert.
On this day 124 years ago Raymond Chandler, hardest of the hard-boiled, was born. To celebrate the father of Philip Marlowe see these letters Chandler wrote to some of his contemporaries, listen to Chandler’s interview with Ian Fleming, and enjoy a couple classic Chandlerisms. Most importantly, read “The Simple Art of Murder,” the greatest essay about the mystery novel ever written.
“Is the reason to have a home, as the narrator in Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, asserts, ‘to keep certain people in and everyone else out’? Or does home, as the narrator in William Maxwell’s autobiographical novel So Long, See You Tomorrow suggests, work primarily as a scaffolding of known things — as a place to read, a place to stash the damp umbrella, a place to listen to the porch swing creak?” Beth Kephart on the literary significance of home.