Practically everyone read Maud Newton‘s riff on David Foster Wallace‘s influence this weekend, but Edward Champion had some issues with it.
In a short biographical piece for Open Letters Monthly, Sam Sacks writes about the book reviewing career of Katherine Mansfield and the ways in which it “helped her build the writing muscles needed” to finish her masterful short stories. While some critics might take umbrage at the way Sacks characterizes Mansfield as “turning out deadline copy like an ink-stained Fleet Street hack,” his look into her reviews culminates in the realization that “the point [of reviewing books] is not to be constructive but to construct something of lasting value in the little space and little time you’re granted. Like all writing, it should be a passion, not a pastime. The point is to dazzle.”
For better or worse, the publication date of Umberto Eco’s final book has been bumped up — originally set for a summertime release, Pepe Satàn Aleppe: Chronicles of a Liquid Society is now due out in Italian this weekend. Check out this Eco essay on how to travel with a salmon.
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.
The “David Mamet Appliance Center” has some predictably abrasive customer service representatives. Here is Peter McCleery for McSweeney’s imagining a hilarious and existentially hopeless exchange between customer and technician. The Millions has even more to satisfy your fictitious-Mamet fix: an imagined symposium with Mamet, Francine Prose, and James Wood among others.