Elif Batuman’s provocative essay “Get a Real Degree” is up at the London Review of Books: “Despite the recent trend in viewing fiction as a form of empathy training, I’m pretty sure that writing short stories isn’t the most efficient way to combat injustice or oppression.”
“One of the most rewarding parts of reading Jane Eyre as a thirteen-year-old Midwesterner is taking a wild shot in the dark at the meaning of all of the untranslated French passages.” Mallory Ortberg at The Toast takes a shot at translating some of Jane Eyre’s trickier passages. Bonus: here are a bunch of reasons why Mr. Rochester is a creep.
“She gathered books to display for attendees and discovered that inside the cover of one, ‘The Koran for Dummies,’ someone had written “lies cover to cover,” drawn a swastika and made a disparaging remark about the Prophet Muhammad.” The president of the American Library Association reports “startling increases” in 2016 of vandalism, including hateful messages, at libraries. The Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has begun formally tracking such incidents to determine whether the increase is “a blip or a trend.”
There was an article in the New York Times on cook book ghostwriters, and it called Gwyneth Paltrow out for not writing My Father’s Daughter. Then the actress cum gourmand denied having worked with a ghostwriter in a tweet. Now Sari Botton, a frequent ghostwriter, has tried to clear the whole thing up in an essay on The Rumpus on why ghostwriting is such a fickle business, and a tricky term.
Michele Filgate was so terrified by Dave Eggers’s The Circle that she quit social media for a week and wrote about the experience for Salon. “I don’t want to become like Mae, sacrificing real-life friendships for the allure of the screen. I want to be aware of the world around me. I want to write about that world. I want to feel more alive, even if that means being lonelier in the process.” Pair with: our review of the novel.
“Let me be frank,” writes our own Edan Lepucki for the opening round of this year’s Tournament of Books. “I went into this matchup excited to read The Round House, whereas I approached The Fault in Our Stars with curiosity and trepidation.” But did she wind up pleasantly surprised? Check out the rest of her write-up to see which tearjerker moved on to the next round. (Bonus: Janet Potter on John Green’s heartbreaking novel.)
Last week in the LRB, Christian Lorentzen used a review of Dear Life to slam the critical consensus surrounding Alice Munro. At Salon, Kyle Minor defends the author, who he thinks “demonstrates that the short story can operate out of a formal dexterity no less expansive in its possibility than the novel’s.”
Need some great book recs for the summer? Want to hear them from the likes of Emma Straub and our own C. Max Magee? Then mark your calendars for June 18th, when Symphony Space and The Millions are hosting a summer edition of Thalia Book Club. (If you’re interested, get your tickets now — they could easily sell out quickly.)