“An ambidextrous cardsharp, who took losing as a personal insult; a proletarian agitator, who dressed like a dandy; a germ-fearing hypochondriac, smoking 100 cigarettes a day; a lady-killer with rotten teeth, causing a string of abortions wherever he went.” On the Soviet poet Mayakovksy.
Lots of new books out this week: Where Mortals Sleep, previously unpublished short fiction by Kurt Vonnegut, with a foreword by Dave Eggers; A Life, one of what will be several biographies of J.D. Salinger arriving over the next couple of years; Stanley Fish tells us How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One; Brian Greene introduced the masses to string theory with The Elegant Universe, and now he’s back with The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos; Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge is out in paperback; and finally, from Penguin Classics, The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime: Forgotten Cops and Private Eyes from the Time of Sherlock Holmes.
In the latest entry in By Heart, which I’ve written about before, Thirty Girls author Susan Minot explains why she prefers to read multiple books at once instead of reading through single books from start to finish. Her reasoning? Books are “worlds to dip in and out of, and my relationship to them is continually deepening and evolving.”
While East Coasters are still dealing with the wrath of Hurricane Irene, the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina passed yesterday. NPR has a timely interview with host Michel Martin, musician Irvin Mayfield and Keith Spera, author of Groove Interrupted: Loss, Renewal and the Music of New Orleans. Likewise, Rivka Galchen‘s 2009 Harper’s essay “Disaster Aversion” bears re-reading.