“More than 30 years after her last big swim, Diana Nyad is back in the water,” writes NPR’s Greg Allen. “Nyad, a former commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition, became well-known in the 1970s for her swim around Manhattan Island and, a few years later, for swimming from the Bahamas to Florida. Now, at age 61, she’ll soon be attempting a 103-mile swim from Cuba to Key West.” Unfortunately she’s already missed Key West’s Hemingway Days.
At My Life and Thoughts, Elif Batuman–in delightfully Elifish style–describes her first book travails and unveils a preliminary sketch for the cover of her forthcoming first book The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, drawn by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.
Did David Foster Wallace predict our anxiety over selfies? At The Wire, Danielle Wiener-Bronner argues that Wallace was prescient in Infinite Jest. Although videophony, his concept of video-chatting, isn’t the same thing as a selfie, the paranoia over looking good is strikingly current. “This sort of appearance check was no more resistible than a mirror. But the experience proved almost universally horrifying. People were horrified at how their own faces appeared on a TP screen.”
“But where Smiley condescended, others were enthralled. Salmon Rushdie waxed lyrical, John Updike found it ‘stunning,’ Susan Sontag hosted him at dinner parties. Gabriel Garcia Marquez dubbed him, simply, ‘the Master’ – high praise from the founder of magical realism, but Kapuściński seemed to one-up Garcia Marquez by injecting magic into real politics, and elucidating thereby the human tension and bewilderment connected to power that traditional journalism left hidden.” Ryszard Kapuściński: novelist? Journalist? Or something else entirely?
How do you describe the life and times of John Horne Burns? He was in turn a military intelligence officer, a schoolteacher, a critical darling after he published The Gallery, a pariah after he published anything else, and a gay man in post-WWII America. In characteristic concision, Ernest Hemingway summed the whole thing up thusly: “There was a fellow who wrote a fine book and then a stinking book about a prep school, and then he just blew himself up.”