Darryl Campbell has had enough of the clichés abundant in book reviews so he’s devised some alternatives. “If fine artists aren’t your thing,” Campbell writes, “then maybe American presidents might be a better comparison: ‘Taft-like excess,’ ‘Cleveland-esque genre-bending’ or ‘Clintonian eroticism’.”
So does literature really have the power to bring liberals and conservatives together? Probably not. Either way, this is still a fascinating study: “The ‘most startling result was this: it was conservative — not liberal — readers who are most active in producing this space of cultural compromise.’ Basically, within this sample size, conservative readers tended to exude more generous praise for ‘bridge books’ and did so with a vernacular considered to be ‘less heated or emotional.’ Grammatically, they also expressed ‘more complex thoughts.'”
If you’ve finished winding your way through Elise Liu’s recommended New Yorker articles – which, as of this week, are free to be read online – you can start working your way through Longform’s roundup of their 25 favorite unlocked pieces. (Or you can go even bigger, thanks to The Awl.)
In his lifetime, Vladimir Nabokov travelled widely, logging many years each in St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Ithaca, New York, where he wrote Lolita while teaching at Cornell. His peripatetic history explains why few people know he spent a summer in Utah, during which he spent a lot of time chasing butterflies and fishing in the streams. In The American Scholar, an excerpt of Nabokov in America, an upcoming book by Richard Roper. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
See you later, creepy Amazon drones — delivery dudes on mopeds are the future! There is a new service called NearSt. which is offering book delivery within the hour. So far the service is only available in London, but with over forty London bookshops already utilizing the service, it seems poised to take over at least a small corner of the market.
You can’t write about Robert Lowell without writing about mental illness — the poet went through many stretches of mania and psychosis in his life. In the Washington Post, Michael Dirda reads a “medico-biography” of Lowell, which takes a full measure of his lifelong illness and its consequences.