Author Marilynne Robinson appeared on “The Daily Show” Thursday night. No kidding. She talked about Absence of Mind, her new work of nonfiction, about the relationship between science and religion. (via The Observer)
“It just goes to show you: it’s not just luck you need to have a successful literary career. It’s luck, piled on luck, piled on luck again, and around the corner, you need another sprinkling of it” says Michelle Dean, after investigating Stephen King’s rise in response partly to Dwight Allen’s “Snob Notes” on the author. Colin Dickey and Sarah Langan have both previously weighed on on Allen’s essay and King’s particular strengths.
The Millions Walking Tour of NYC Indie Bookstores is only a week away. Get all the details and RSVP.Little Dorrit is must-see-TV in the Packer household.For those considering undertaking Infinite Jest, we recommend Slate’s Audio Book Club discussion.Meanwhile, in the first installment of New York Magazine’s new “Reading Room” feature, participants get, er… wet.”‘I never wanted to write this book,'” [Alec Baldwin] tells us… ‘It was also a book I never wanted to read, but here we are, Alec and I, making the best of a bad situation.'”The influence of the late J.G. Ballard, who died this week, reached from Jonathan Lethem to Thom Yorke.What’s Bret Easton Ellis up to? Not much, apparently.An inspired blog feature collects one-star Amazon reviews of the classics (via HTMLGIANT).In praise of Peter Handke and A.J. Liebling.Senator Arlen Specter realizes that there’s no way to endear yourself to Republican primary voters like writing for The New York Review of Books.William H. Gass goes for baroque. (via The Complete Review)Some small presses are trying out a subscription model.The earliest known dust jacket for a book has been found. (via LitKicks)The Orange Prize shortlist has been announced.Ben Yogoda writes a defense of common English.Trade paperbacks thrive in tough times. (Our suggestion: make them even smaller.)Earth Day was this past week, and now we know: used books are “greener” than new.
How was Charlotte Brontë at 8? According to her school reports, she “‘[wrote] indifferently’ and ‘[knew] nothing of grammar, geography, history, or accomplishments”. Of course, she went on to write Jane Eyre, and as The Guardian points out, many a famous writer received middling reports in school, so maybe there’s hope for other “indifferent’ writers.
David Kurnick explores what makes Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels so addictive. As he puts it, “In Ferrante we see what grand novelistic ambition looks like devoid of writerly vanity.” Pair with Cora Currier’s essay on reading Italy through Ferrante’s books.