A new issue of The Quarterly Conversation covers Gaddis, Müeller, and the Nordic masculinity of Per Petterson, among other topics.
Today marks the opening round of the always-worth-following Morning News Tournament of Books. In the ring, Adam by Ariel Schrag faces off against The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, in a match refereed by Matthea Harvey. For background, you could read our review of The Bone Clocks.
Much fuss was made about Barack Obama’s ex-girlfriends this week, as an excerpt from David Maraniss’ forthcoming Barack Obama: The Story was published in Vanity Fair. Of course, we sophisticated book readers care less about the man’s old flames than we do his literary pursuits, right? That’s why Mr. President’s analysis of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” is so interesting.
With a huge winter storm bearing down on the East Coast, the Hopkinton library in Massachusetts did the only sensible thing: they erected a sign extolling the virtues of curling up with a book. What makes theirs unique is that, unlike many of their peers, they found a way to avoid the “warm yourself up” cliché. (Previously spotted on Reddit: “What are some good books to read [in jail?]”)
As part of World Book Night, a UK event designed to bring attention to books for adult readers, a number of famous authors have chosen books that they would recommend to readers. Stephen King’s selection was Hash Kestin’s small press effort The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats. Published by upstart Dzanc Books in the U.S. in 2009, the jolt of publicity generated by the King selection means the book will now be coming out in the UK as well. Our own Emily Mandel wrote a review of the book in 2010, calling it “a gritty enchantment”
We’ve heard about the weak dollar making things tough on Canadian readers, but the pain is being felt by Canadian publishers as well, as profit margins diminish. The latest casualty is publisher Raincoast Books.Philip Agee died today. His Inside the Company in 1973 may have created a modern day genre, one that would be contributed to by many former agents, the CIA tell-all.The Atlantic reaches deep into the archives to bring us “The History of Children’s Books,” from 1888:It is hard to imagine a world without books for children. There have been children’s stories and folk-tales ever since man first learned to speak. “Many of them,” in Thackeray’s words, “have been narrated, almost in their present shape, for thousands of years since, to little copper-colored Sanscrit children. The very same tale has been heard by the Northmen Vikings, as they lay on their shields on deck; and by the Arabs, couched under the stars in the Syrian plains, when the flocks were gathered in, and the mares were picketed by the tents.” Children’s books, however, are a late growth of literature. Miss Yonge says, “Up to the Georgian era there were no books at all for children or the poor, excepting the class-books containing old ballads, such as Chevy Chase, and short tales, such as The King and the Cobbler, Whittington and his Cat.” We shall nevertheless see that there were English books for children (and it is with no others that we have to deal) long before this time.