PEN World Voices, the great annual festival of International Literature, unveils this year’s lineup for the week of April 26, in New York and elsewhere. Highlights include Norman Rush, Patti Smith, László Krasznahorkai, Rodrigo Frésan, and Sherman Alexie‘s “Freedom to Write” lecture.
It’s time again for spring cleaning, as well as the more enjoyable spring reading. Scott Esposito at Conversational Reading is gearing up for Your Face This Spring, which will read the entire 1200 pages of Javier Marías‘s Your Face Tomorrow trilogy. And Big Other is orchestrating a group read of Flann O’Brien‘s At Swim-Two-Birds. After you finish a closet, open a book–both start next week.
New releases this week include Keith Richard’s rock memoir Life, reviewed for The Millions by Jim Santel, Michael Caine’s The Elephant to Hollywood, an “unabashedly old-school celebrity memoir” according to its New York Times review, and Stephen Sondheim’s songwriting book Finishing the Hat.
The Morning News has just launched a series on contemporary Russian literature. For this week’s installment Anna Starobinets provides an exerpt of her debut manuscript, An Awkward Age, and chats about her writing with Elizabeth Kiem. In the New Yorker, Sally McGrane profiles Boris Akunin, Russian writer of potboilers and political dissident.
A new Hemingway App promises to trim the fat from your writing in a way that the Great Bearded One would’ve approved. The app uses various color codes to highlight writing written in the passive voice, writing that’s too hard to read, and also unnecessary adverbs or complex phrases. Sounds interesting enough, no? Well, the problem is that someone ran the Hemingway App on some actual Ernest Hemingway writing, and it turns out that Papa himself didn’t even write to the app’s standard.
“The past fascinates me obsessively, I suppose, because it’s such a strange phenomenon. The past was the present at some point, and it was just as boring as the present. What makes it so important? What gives it that luminous, exalted quality where it becomes the past?” John Banville addresses these and many other heady questions in his new novel, The Blue Guitar.