Do you hate Jonathan Franzen (and/or contemporary literature generally)? Then you’ll love B.R. Myers‘ take on him at The Atlantic.
The Skinny is acclaimed author Susan Orlean’s strangest work, hands down: a half-serious diet book that advises women, among other things, to cover tempting food with bleach. Not one to follow her own advice, Orlean’s diary of a week of eating for Grub Street features yogurt breakfasts, crackers eaten over sinks, and other basically realistic, bleach-free culinary adventures.
Olivia Laing has written an entire book about male writers and their relationships with alcohol, The Trip to Echo Spring, but in a piece for The Guardian she returns to the subject of writers and drink in order to respond to the question, what about women writers? Were any of them alcoholics? “Yes,” she writes, “of course.” She goes on to discuss the lives and work of Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, Elizabeth Bishop and Patricia Highsmith, their reasons for drinking and their experiences in a society much more willing to accept the struggles of men than of women. For more from Laing, be sure to check out her Year in Reading for 2013.
Ian McEwan stopped by BBC’s Radio4 flagship news program to discuss, among other things, his love for John Williams’s Stoner. The novel, as Claire Cameron reported for us last month, is currently flying off the shelves in the Netherlands. However since McEwan gave Williams’s forgotten masterpiece a shout out, UK buyers have been snapping up four copies per minute.
The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder “what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”