Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals, died today at the age of 88, according to a statement released by his publisher. Pirsig’s work explored a system of thought called the “Metaphysics of Quality,” which has been defined as “a thesis that quality is the basis of reality, and that this understanding unifies most East Asian and Western thought.”
Electric Literature has launched the “Read More Women” series—a “stripped-down, feminist version” of the New York Times “By the Book” column—which will feature writers recommending books by women and non-binary authors. First up in the series is Maria Dahvana Headley, author of The Mere Wife.
For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.
Hari Kunzru wonders whether the recent surge of attention for Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai makes him the latest talisman for the young New York literary elite. Regardless, it’s worth revisiting Paul Morton’s interview with Krasznahorkai and Adam Z. Levy’s review of his latest novel, Sátántangó.