Vladimir Nabokov, who lived a parallel existence as a self-taught expert on butterflies and a Harvard museum curator, has had his theory on butterfly evolution finally proved sixty-five years later. (Thanks, Kevin)
“My father’s life intersected with a century of conflict, horror and invention. He deciphered these histories for me, making me his scribe in a new century. My successes were his successes, and his stories thrum in every word I write. He taught me to see like a writer, to be attentive to the stories that spring up everywhere … It’s an attentiveness to the world, to ordinary suffering, to the love that persists in its midst. My sense of the world, of history and humanity flows from this awareness — and the attendant grim humor — my father used as his guiding lamp in the darkness cast by racism and poverty.” Over at The New York Times, Walter Mosley recalls the lessons taught to him by his father, Leroy.
“No one was more grimly adamant that the world was in mortal peril, or had more fun trying to save it from itself.” Over at The New Yorker‘s Page Turner blog, Alexandra Schwartz considers the life and work of Grace Paley, noting that Paley’s slim output “is a great shame, if not so surprising. Activism, like alcoholism, can distract a writer from the demands of her desk.” Also of note: this tribute to Paley that our own Garth Risk Hallberg wrote upon her death in 2007.
Out this week: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates; Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee; Armada by Ernest Cline; Among the Wild Mulattos and Other Tales by Tom Williams; Confession of the Lioness by Mia Couto; The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley; Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas; All This Life by Joshua Mohr; A Master Plan for Rescue by Janis Cooke Newman; Imperium by Christian Kracht; and The New World by Andrew Motion. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
Remember when I wrote about Bonnie Huie’s translation of Qiu Miaojin’s Notes of a Crocodile? Well here’s some more about Huie’s work. Over at the PEN blog, you can check out the translator’s introduction to Miaojin as well as an additional excerpt from the translation-in-progress.