At 3 Quarks Daily, Akeel Bilgrami’s essay on the pleasures of literature: “To understand what is special about literature is not to delegate the emotions to literature while retaining thought for philosophy and science. The idea is to find in the distinctly expressive function of literature, a refusal of that tired dualism.” (via Book Bench)
Has Edward St. Aubyn killed the existentialist novel? Jacob Kiernan at Full Stop Magazine has a few ideas about it. If it’s existential quandary you’re after, this essay for The Millions on the beautiful afterlife of books–which may not be so much of an afterlife, after all–will be perfect for you.
Remember when Esquire released their not-so-great list of eighty books every man should read? Well, they have amended their list to eighty books every person should read, asking advice from “eight female literary powerhouses” including Roxane Gay, Michiko Kakutani and Lauren Groff. Our own Janet Potter recommends twenty-eight books you should read if you want to.
“I was dropping out of college and had begun a novel and returned to New York. A bookstore in Manhattan announced a rare reading and signing by Anthony Burgess, a primary hero of mine at the time, for his autodidact’s erudition and braggadocio, and for how he’d gentrified a number of outre genres just by picking them up and mingling them with his erudition and braggadocio.” At the LARB, Jonathan Lethem remembers a formative reading by the author.
Another hip-hip for long-form journalism. George Packer's piece in the New Yorker on Richard Holbrooke and the Af-Pak War reminds one that some things -- complicated geopolitical matters, for example -- must be explored at length. Subscribers can read the full article in the digital edition here. Short of that, read Packer's assessment of the McChrystal Report on his blog.
The creative writing department at Florida International University has released the ninth issue of their on-campus literary magazine, Gulf Stream. The issue features the publication’s first inaugural Author Roundtable – a discussion between agents and writers from the Miami Writers Institute and novelists Cathy Day and Marc Fitten.