George Packer at Lapham’s Quarterly writes of meeting a young Burmese reader of Charles Dickens: “‘All of those characters are me,’ [he] explained. ‘Neither a British nor American young man living in the twenty-first century can understand a Dickens as well as I can…I am more equipped to understand Dickens than modern novels. I don’t know what is air conditioning, what is subway, what is fingerprint exam.’” (via Book Bench)
A lot of writers have alter-egos, but few are as interesting as Benjamin Black, the crime-writing persona of Irish novelist and Year in Reading alum John Banville. The author’s new novel adds an entry to the saga of a crime-fiction icon: Raymond Chandler’s Angeleno detective, Philip Marlowe.
Would you like your man-steak with green peppercorn sauce? At the LRB, Jenny Diski on Catalin Avramescu‘s Intellectual History of Cannibalism.
“There is so much low self-esteem in girls, and so much self-hate that I keep reading about. My first idea for a book was something that would help to lift girls out of that place of negativity.” Actor Gillian Anderson and journalist Jennifer Nadel are writing a 300-plus page guide entitled We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, slated for release in March 2017.
Even though James McBride (new National Book Award winner for The Good Lord Bird) is an accomplished jazz musician, he doesn’t listen to any music while writing. “Because I’m a musician, listening to music is…it’s a bit like work for me,” he told The Daily Beast for the “How I Write” series.
Is envy really the worst form of pettiness, as Kierkegaard suggested? Maybe. The great Roman philosopher Cicero had his own, fairly radical thoughts on envy — namely, that “compassion and envy are consistent in the same man; for whoever is uneasy at any one’s adversity is also uneasy at another’s prosperity.”
Brittany Oliver listed the “6 Most Influential Women Writers You’ve Never Heard Of” for PolicyMic, and she’s right. I’ve only heard of two of them.