52 years since Lolita: The Reader’s Almanac recounts the many publishers who turned down Nabokov’s masterpiece in 1953. From one rejection letter: “I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” (via @ElectricLit)
Congratulations to Millions staffer Edan Lepucki, who sold her debut novel California to Little, Brown at auction this week. The novel, which Edan refers to as “Novel #2” in her article “What Happens When a Book Doesn’t Sell,” will follow a young married couple grappling with a post-apocalyptic world. Consider us extra relieved given Edan’s proclamation in that article: “And this new book, it will be published. If it doesn’t, well, I’ll just die.”
Máirtín Ó Cadhain is probably the most famous Irish writer you haven’t heard of, if only because he wrote all his masterworks in Irish rather than English. His best novel, Cre na Cille, has a simple and arresting premise: a town in Connemara has a graveyard in which the dead can speak. In The Guardian, Kevin Barry (who we interviewed) reads the novel for the first time.
It’s hard to describe exactly who Delmore Schwartz was, for the simple reason that he did so many notable things. The man wrote poetry, edited The Partisan Review and The New Republic, and wrote a canonical short story at the age of twenty-five. In The Nation, Vivian Gornick makes the case for a new accomplishment, arguing that “Delmore Schwartz is to Jewish-American writing what Richard Wright is to African-American writing.” You could also read Gabriel Brownstein on life as a Jewish writer.
During the riots in Baltimore following Freddie Gray’s death, the city’s chief librarian insisted her neighborhood branch remain open. Yesterday that librarian, Dr. Carla D. Hayden, was sworn in as the 14th librarian of Congress, the first woman and African-American to hold the position. We wonder what Dr. Hayden might make of our own Jacob Lambert‘s “Open Letter to the Person Who Wiped Boogers on My Library Book.”
Not-so-breaking news: Books are the best way to store information. CDs, flash memory, hard drives, and other digital storage devices aren’t nearly as durable as good old fashioned paper. So the next time someone says you have too many books, just say it’s your attempt at immortality.
In 1969, Random House’s Book of the Month Club offered members an edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Salvador Dalí. (You can view the full collection here.) Forty-three years later, the publisher had a mail delivery experience that was almost equally surreal.
June 7th would have been Gwendolyn Brooks‘ 101st birthday. In remembrance of her we encourage you to read her works and reflect on a legacy. To get you started Shondaland has a good primer on this cool poet, who became the first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize. Pair it with this essay on Brooks and reading outside your culture.