Three Percent crunches the numbers on all the translated fiction and poetry published in the U.S. in 2009. The overall numbers were down in 2009 from 2008. The top language to be translated? Spanish, followed by French, German, Arabic, and Italian. (Thanks, Laurie)
How did Herman Melville’s friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne affect the writing of Moby-Dick? It’s a hard question to answer with any certainty, but Patrick James Dunagan gives it a shot, drawing evidence from Erik Hage’s book on the authors’ relationship. You could also read Hester Blum’s argument that Moby-Dick is the greatest American novel.
“Aspiring journalists tend to worship at the altar of Joan Didion,” writes Heather Havrilesky (who some of you may know as Polly) in the latest issue of Bookforum. The fact that so many writers look up to Didion as an example necessitates that the lit world find at least one offbeat alternative. In Havrilesky’s eyes, that alternative is obvious: the late Nora Ephron was the anti-Didion, she argues.
What are those crazy kids from Vampire Weekend saying in their new single, “Cousins”? It’s a little disappointing, as the beleaguered translators of lyrics at We Listen For You reveal.
Just in time for Labor Day, the folks at Open Road Media have assembled their annual video of writers talking about the day jobs they’ve left behind. Did you know James Salter sold swimming pools? Or that Edna O’Brien used to weigh babies in a chemist’s shop? This year’s installment can be found here; last year’s over here.