Who would have predicted, when an unassuming history of post-punk called Our Band Could Be Your Life was published in 2001, that we’d be celebrating its tenth anniversary with concert blowouts and Paris Review Daily interviews? Most anyone who read it, that’s who.
New this week: Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney; Carousel Court by Joe McGinniss, Jr.; How I Became a North Korean by Krys Lee; Moonstone by Sjón; and Still Here by Lara Vapnyar. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
Looking up a book title on Google? The search results now include listings at your local library, reports The Digital Reader. See also our own Jacob Lambert’s entreaty, “An Open Letter to the Person Who Wiped Boogers on My Library Book.”
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.”
In the Tank, the blog of the New America Foundation, has a new interview up with Konstantin Kakaes, author of the latest e-book from The Millions. Among other things, he talks about what he would do if he ran NASA — “bring back a piece of Mars” — and mentions that the Voyager spacecrafts will keep sending signals back to Earth until at least the year 2025.
In a piece for the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik writes about a new life of C. K. Scott Moncrieff, the first translator of Proust into English, and about the strange success and beauty his imperfect translation of Remembrance of Things Past achieved. The essay as a whole pairs well with both our own Bill Morris‘s essay against literary biography and Barclay Bram Shoemaker‘s Millions review of Mo Yan‘s Frog and “the trouble with translation.”
“How did a humble Canadian publisher—which got its start reprinting other companys’ books—become the name most associated with romance? It’s a long story, involving a peripatetic former fur trader and his opinionated socialite wife, a Procter-and-Gamble-trained Harvard MBA, some jilted Americans and a whole crowd of damned scribbling women.” From Pictorial comes the story of “How Harlequin Became the Most Famous Name in Romance.”