How has a spirit legally defined as being “without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color” flourished in today’s economic climate? Victorino Matus‘ Weekly Standard article explores the history and ubiquity of vodka. Perhaps this article is best paired with something from NPR‘s list of “Great American Writers and Their Cocktails.”
Out this week: Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander; Sourdough by Robin Sloan; Border by Kapka Kassabova; A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré; and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Following last week’s Sotheby’s auction, the archives of Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky will soon be headed back to Russia. The collection amounts to “several thousand working manuscripts, personal photographs, recordings and private documents” and it sold for a whopping £1.5 million.
The release date for Thomas Pynchon’s new novel is three weeks away, and to mark the occasion, Boris Kachka runs through a quick biography of the perpetually mysterious author. Among other things, Kachka points out that Pynchon resides in a fairly odd neighborhood for a recluse to choose to live in — the Upper West Side. (Previously: “Thomas Pynchon to Publish New Novel” and “New Thomas Pynchon Teaser.”)
At the LRB’s blog, J. Robert Lennon pays tribute to Russell Edson, the playwright, novelist and prose poet who passed away last week. Lennon recounts that Edson was that rare favorite author who he learned about thanks to a cassette tape. (If you like the blog post, you could also read Lennon’s most recent novel.)