Slate corrects an oversight to Sarah Palin’s otherwise impeccably edited memoir: no index. Theirs runs from “Alaska, autumn bouquet of” (page 1) to “‘you betcha’ – revelation of as not actually Alaska’s state motto” (page 309), and includes such helpful detours as “exclamation point, usage of” (pages 4, 26, 120, 121, 122, 138, 150…) You almost – almost – don’t have to read the book.
Recommended Reading: This beautiful essay from The Rumpus on the ambivalence of Jewishness and a whole lot more nuance than this Curiosity can communicate. Here’s an essay by Gabriel Brownstein from The Millions on what it means to be labeled as a Jewish writer.
HTMLGiant’s A. D. Jameson went and saw part one of The Hobbit in theatres so now none of us have to do the same. Instead, sit back and check out his “250 Points” about the film. Or, if you’d prefer a blast of Tolkien analysis from the past, check out W. H. Auden’s 1956 book review of The Return of the King.
“It is difficult for them to understand why a successful black woman would choose to return to the South and, worse yet, to Mississippi, which looms large in the public’s imagination for its racist depredations, and rightfully so.” For Time magazine’s American South issue Jesmyn Ward writes about her decision to return home to Mississippi.
With the frenzied holiday season underway, there aren’t many new releases to look at this week, but there are some newly reissued classics hitting shelves. NYRB Classics has put out Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupassant and Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman. Vintage, meanwhile, has smart looking new editions of a pair of Somerset Maugham books: The Narrow Corner and A Writer’s Notebook.
Andrew Marantz reviews R. Kelly’s “breezy” and “revealing” memoir, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me, for The New Yorker’s book blog, Page-Turner. This might be what they meant when they said they were “rebooting” the Book Bench. (Related: hear Gary Oldman read some passages from the book.)
Lit crit becomes a legal matter: “The contrast between the total concept and feel of the works is so stark that any serious comparison of the two strains credulity,” wrote the English judge who has dismissed the case against J.K. Rowling brought by the estate of Willy the Wizard author Adrian Jacobs. Jacobs’ estate claimed that Rowling had plagiarized elements of Willy the Wizard‘s plot in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Anyone who’s majored in the humanities has likely heard warnings that it’s better to major in the sciences. If, as many would have it, we live in a scientist’s world, what place is there for the arts? At the Ploughshares blog, Cathe Shubert finds a place for writers in a STEM-obsessed society. You could also read Cathy Day on the job prospects of writers.