For Angelenos: Elif Batuman will be reading from The Possessed tonight at 7:00 at the LAPL Central Library. A conversation with LA Times Books Editor David Ulin follows the reading. More information and reservations here (tickets are free).
“When the French would go to serve, they often said, Tenez!, the French word for ‘take it,’ meaning ‘coming at you, heads up.’ We preserve this custom of warning the opponent in our less lyrical way by stating the score just before we toss up the ball. It was the Italians who, having overheard the French make these sounds, began calling the game ‘ten-ez’ by association. A lovely detail in that it suggests a scene, a Florentine ear at the fence or entryway, listening.” Whether it’s David Foster Wallace or John Jeremiah Sullivan writing about tennis, I’m reading it. Another three-namer, Jonathan Russell Clark, reviewed The David Foster Wallace Reader for The Millions.
In the latest issue of The Boston Review, Elaine Scarry reviews Steven Pinker’s
The Better Angels of Our Nature. Pinker argues that literature, by bolstering man’s empathy, has lead to huge reductions in worldwide violence, a thesis that sounds dangerously close to the absurd pop-science of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.
“What if, instead of simply critiquing Go Set a Watchman’s failure, we tried to analyze it? The new, older work makes more sense if we read it as an attempt to accomplish two tasks: first, to master—unsuccessfully, it turns out—the smart-magazine style that Harper Lee developed in her student journalism; and second, to write in a genre that often relied on the ironic elisions typical of ‘smart style’: the midcentury social-problem novel.” Tom Perrin on Harper Lee and the social novel. Pair with Michael Bourne’s Millions review.
They’ve called him a sports icon, a “national nightmare,” an author, and a punchline. They’ve questioned the backlash against him, and tracked his particular brand of “muscular Christianity.” Coincidental religious symbolism has been noted. Yet so far nothing has come close to genius of Jimmy Fallon’s rendition of Tim Tebow as… TeBowie.
Longshot is an online magazine with quite an interesting concept: “Over a 48 hour period from noon July 29, 2011, through noon July 31, 2011, thousands of writers, editors, artists, photographers, programmers, videographers, and other creatives from all around the world will come together via the Internet to make a magazine from start to finish.” This issue’s theme is “Debt” and you can follow its progress via Tumblr.
“It may be true… that the internet will turn out to be ‘a giant empathy machine.’ And yet, as any reader knows, we’ve already had one for centuries.” Drew Calvert reviews The Novel: A Biography for the Los Angeles Review of Books and provides an argument for the novel in the digital age.