At The Collagist, Kyle Beachy imagines the emperor Augustus saying to the poet Horace, “You and your kind are fucked!” “The Extent of Our Decline” is one of number of essays appearing in the collection I co-edited, The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, coming in March from Soft Skull.
The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder "what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read."
“With thirteen other diners, the two professors of English first prepared and then made their way through eight courses, including beef broth, haddock, steak, mutton, chicken, and chocolate profiteroles....The dinner was a recreation of one eaten 132 years earlier, in one of England’s grandest country houses. Among the guests at this first dinner was George Scharf, founding director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, a man not especially famous in his own day and virtually unknown in ours.” Love Among the Archives brings us into the world of George Scharf, a bachelor affectionately deemed “The Most Boring Man in the World.”
Congratulations to the NYPL for restoring $36.7 million of the city's proposed $40 million budget cut. Today also marks the first day of new NYPL president Anthony Marx. (Pro-tip: when you want to skip the wait list for a popular book, reserve the large-print version!)
"Where does the line between the self-portrait and the selfie fall? Both Kardashian West and Kahlo are masters of the form—suggesting that perhaps there is no clear line at all." Anyone who puts Frida and Kim together in an essay, as Sarah Murray has for The Rumpus, has our full and enthusiastic support. Also relevant: Alizah Salario's piece about the naming of North West.
Can’t wait for Haruki Murakami’s new novel? You’re in luck: Slate just published an exclusive excerpt from the book. Sample quote: “No matter how quiet and conformist a person’s life seems, there’s always a time in the past when they reached an impasse. A time when they went a little crazy. I guess people need that sort of stage in their lives.” (You could also read Ben Dooley’s review of 1Q84.)