New releases this week include Keith Richard’s rock memoir Life, reviewed for The Millions by Jim Santel, Michael Caine’s The Elephant to Hollywood, an “unabashedly old-school celebrity memoir” according to its New York Times review, and Stephen Sondheim’s songwriting book Finishing the Hat.
The latest entity to get sucked into the Jerry Sandusky pedophile scandal that’s engulfed Penn State? Amazon. Users are leaving angry comments on the site’s comment boards about Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story, Sandusky’s unfortunately titled 2001 biography.
When a professor of literature wrote Flannery O’Connor for a master key for interpreting her story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” he probably did not expect her particularly unimpressed reply: “Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.” (Via the ever-excellent Letters of Note.)
“I didn’t really understand what reading was for. If I wanted a story, the thing to do was to get my grandmother to read it to me. Then listening to her voice, her story-reading voice which always sounded a little incredulous, marvelling, yet full of faith, bravely insistent, and watching her face, its meaningful and utterly familiar expressions—lifted eyebrows, ominously sinking chin, brisk little nods of agreement when, as sometimes happened, a character said something sensible—then I would feel the story grow into life and exist by itself, so that it hardly seemed to me that she was reading it out of a book at all; it was something she had created herself, out of thin air… But one summer I had the whooping-cough, and afterwards I could not go swimming or jump off the beams in the barn or boss my little brother, because by that time he had the whooping-cough himself. My grandmother was off somewhere, visiting other cousins. So I swung on my swing until I got dizzy, and then for no reason in particular I took the Child’s History out of the bookcase in the front room, and sat down on the floor and started to read.” Alice Munro writes about A Child’s History of England, the first book she ever read.
I’ve loved old sci-fi B-movies forever, and a staggering number of my childhood memories involve Ray Harryhausen. For this reason, I’m really geeking out over The New Yorker’s entire science fiction issue, but in particular this piece by Colson Whitehead deserves your time.