Planning on writing a prison scene? Worried your characters might sound a bit unrealistic? Then see if you can get your hands on the Bonne Terre dictionary. Written by inmates at a prison in Louisiana, the dictionary includes such idiosyncratic terms as “boat,” meaning a plastic bed, and “pumpkin,” meaning a new inmate.
Think back to your time as a 14-year-old. What were you doing with your time? Were you beating Norman Mailer in a national essay contest? A Guide for the Perplexed author Dara Horn was.
"[I]n the world of letters, it is hard to imagine a more seismic change than this one." The New York Times announces that its longtime book critic Michiko Kakutani is stepping down after nearly four decades of reviews. The Times also offers a roundup of her greatest hits, including writeups of Beloved, Infinite Jest, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Bill Clinton's memoir My Life: The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history. This announcement was followed by the great news that repeat Year in Reading alumna Parul Sehgal will join Jennifer Senior and Dwight Garner as a Times book critic, leaving her position as senior editor of the NYT Book Review. Congratulations, Parul!
The reach of literary Brooklyn grows ever larger, as local hub BookCourt mounts a $300,000 campaign to convert the "Bibliobarn," 160 miles north in the Catskills, into a "bookshop, event space, and writers' retreat." Upstaters, lock up your house-cured salume and artisinally sharpened pencils!
Now that summer's nearly over (I know, I know, but I'm looking forward to fall. As if you can blame me) there's a history of summer reading in the Boston Globe. And if you're looking to squeeze in a good summery book this weekend, we've still got you covered, with our list of literary sizzlers. Get 'em while it's hot.