More amusement has been prompted by The History of Love author Nicole Krauss’s arguably over-the-top blurb for David Grossman’s To the End of the Land: “To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being.” Following Guardian’s subsequent contest for who can write the most absurdly laudatory blurb for a Dan Brown novel, Laura Miller at Salon dissects why author endorsements are so unreliable.
What if Petrarch had blurbed The Divine Comedy, or Shakespeare, "author of Tony Award-winning sensation Hamlet," had reviewed Don Quixote? Tom Rachman imagines these blurbs and more for The Rumpus, and his piece pairs well with our brief history of the blurb.
Translating is notoriously difficult work, and translating Proust even more so. The Boston Review has published a very thoughtful piece about the history of In Search of Lost Time in English, the trouble with annotations, and the general "tension in translation between the spirit and the letter." We highly recommend you take the time to read it, even if you don't have time for Proust just yet.
"How could we possibly trust any creature that comes into the world wearing such a caul of ambiguity? That’s “essayists.” Four hundred and four years later, they continue to flourish." John Jeremiah Sullivan offers a loose history of the essay, essayists, and all their many contradictions in a piece for The New Yorker.
Corey Vilhauer, host of his Book of the Month Club here at The Millions, has put together a great collection of lists of greatest writers, straying outside of the purely literary realm into music, film, and other areas. He has his own top 25, as well as top tens from a number of guests.The Guardian interviews Richard Ford in anticipation of his upcoming third Frank Bascome novel, Lay of the Land. "It is quite some novelty to find myself waking up in Richard Ford's bed," it starts.The Boston Globe profiles John Hodgman, who, with his book The Areas of My Expertise, regular "Daily Show" appearances, and ubiquitous Mac ads is suddenly everywhere. Update: Hodgman gets interviewed by Radar.Did you know there are two books about "Jeopardy!" out right now? Brainiac is by Ken Jennings, the guy who was the game show's champion for about six months in 2004. A somewhat wackier look at the show is Prisoner of Trebekistan by another former champion, Bob Harris. The Village Voice recently reviewed both books.
"The half-stripped trees / struck by a wind together, / bending all, / snapping before the power of… / thundersnow? / Oh shit, do you see that? / Thundersnow!" It's safe to say that William Carlos Williams would have been blown away by thundersnow. Here are a few other classic poems helpfully reimagined for the climate change age.