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)
Edward “The Godfather” Thorp has been widely recognized as the “father of card counting” since the publication of his bestselling book Beat the Dealer in 1962. Today, at 70 years old, the man’s impact on the card game is ubiquitous, but perhaps nowhere moreso than at Las Vegas’ annual Blackjack Ball.
For The Brooklyn Rail, John Ashbery answers some questions about writing in French, crushes on boys, and the presence of “it.” As he puts it, “I’m sort of notorious for my use of the pronoun ‘it’ without explaining what it means, which somehow never seemed a problem to me.”
Gabriel García Márquez has died at the age of 87. The Colombian writer was a prominent novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. He was most famous for One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, and The Autumn of the Patriarch and won a Nobel Prize in 1982 for his work.
Who better to review a new sci-fi book than Ursula Le Guin? The Guardian editors couldn’t think of a better candidate either. She reviewed the new story collection Three Moments of an Explosion by the English writer China Miéville. Sample quote: “Pastiche, when present, is so skilful that it can go unnoticed.” You could also read our own Bill Morris on discovering Miéville’s work.