“The [book] review’s pre-eminence is irrefutable: most people are acquainted with far, far more books through reviews than they could ever hope to read. And that is, generally, to the good.” Joseph Mackin explores why we write and read book reviews for the New York Journal of Books.
Recommended reading: one essay on George Orwell‘s stomping grounds on the Scottish island where he wrote 1984 in the throes of a tubercular fever, and another on the tiny Indian town of Motihari where he was born.
When did Samuel Beckett’s “fail better” become the motto of Silicon Valley? At Slate, our own Mark O’Connell traces the history of the phrase. “Fail Better, with its TEDishly counterintuitive feel, is the literary takeaway par excellence; it’s usefully suggestive, too, of the corporate propaganda of productivity, with its appeals to ‘think different’ or ‘work smarter’ or ‘just do it.'”
Do you live near Athens, GA? Come out tonight to support a newly opened indie bookstore: Avid Bookshop. Or, if you can’t make that, hit up tomorrow’s “Kids’ Day” at the same place. They have a Twitter account, too.
You may have heard that Pulitzer laureate Oscar Hijuelos passed away on Sunday at the age of 62. Hijuelos, who won the prize in 1990 for his novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, broke ground as the first Latino author to take home the prestigious award. On NPR, David Greene talks with Columbia professor Gustavo Perez Firmat about the author’s legacy. (Related: Thea Lim on people of color and American writing.)
You may have heard that Joshua Cohen has a new book out this week. The Harper’s columnist’s fourth novel tells the story of a ghostwriter producing a tech wizard’s memoirs. In BOMB Magazine, Dan Duray sits down with Cohen, who talks about the book, the Bay Area and the cultural production of autism. Related: Johannes Lichtman on Cohen’s Four New Messages.