Some world literature links: Sign and Sight offers the best introduction to Herta Müller I’ve been able to find…The Complete Review gets the ball rolling on Roberto Bolaño’s (very) early novel Monsieur Pain, forthcoming from New Directions…Ingo Schulze, author of the quietly astonishing New Lives and the forthcoming One More Story, talks to The Toronto Star (via)…The NBCC features Yu Hua‘s Brothers…Claudio Magris is crowned the king of Frankfurt…Maud Newton hails Juan Gabriel Vásquez‘s “inventive and intricately plotted” The Informers…The Brooklyn Rail and Transcript both offer handsome online digests of short stories from around the world.
It’s hard to get a better glimpse of the postwar white male American writer than the essays of William Styron. In My Generation, a new book of collected nonfiction, Styron writes about a raft of his contemporaries, including but not limited to Philip Roth, James Baldwin and Truman Capote. In the NYT, Charles Johnson reviews the collection. You could also read Alexander Nazaryan on a book by Styron’s daughter.
The latest entity to get sucked into the Jerry Sandusky pedophile scandal that’s engulfed Penn State? Amazon. Users are leaving angry comments on the site’s comment boards about Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story, Sandusky’s unfortunately titled 2001 biography.
“Jealousy baffles me. It’s so mysterious and it’s so pervasive. … And yet I’ve never read a study that can parse to me its loneliness, or its longevity, or its grim thrill. For that, we have to go to fiction because the novel is the lab that has studied jealousy in every possible configuration. In fact, I don’t know that it’s an exaggeration to say that if we didn’t have jealousy, we wouldn’t even have literature.” New York Times Book Review editor Parul Sehgal takes listeners to church in her TED Talk, “Ode to Envy.”
Colm Tóibín's new book on Elizabeth Bishop is unusually hard to categorize. Part “primer,” part “personal reflection,” in Jonathan Farmer’s words, it moves back and forth between analysis and lyricism, alternating passages of beauty with nuts-and-bolts guides to Bishop’s poems. In Slate, Farmer tries to nail it down. You could also read our own Michael Bourne’s review of Tóibín's The Master.
If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem "To Fortune." As Herrick writes, "Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)" For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel's piece on commercial grammar.
Next Saturday (April 29) is Independent Bookstore Day! If you’re looking for a place to celebrate, check out our staff recommendations of tried and true mainstays. You can also map out the stores Janet Potter’s “bookstore resume,” which she freely admits has taken “the shape of a relationship history.”