Chad Harbach‘s The Art of Fielding is ubiquitous. We tapped it in our Second Half of 2011 Preview. n+1 bundled it with year-long subscriptions. The Awl interviewed the author. The New Yorker‘s Book Club picked it as their September book. It was reviewed in The New York Times. Now Keith Gessen‘s expanded his Vanity Fair piece on the novel’s development into a standalone e-book. In light of all this hype, McNally Jackson’s Tumblr provides a poignant list of baseball puns for reviewers to start avoiding.
We know Ernest Hemingway could drink, but he also could make an excellent burger. At The Paris Review blog, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan cooked up Papa’s famous patty. “The burger was delicious: each bit of it oozed a complex and textured umami, earthy and deep,” she writes. In other Hemingway news, Harper’s will publish a forgotten story, “My Life in the Bull Ring With Donald Ogden,” in its October issue, but only because Hemingway’s estate wouldn’t let Vanity Fair print it. The magazine rejected the story in 1924 and as his son put it, “I’m not a great fan of Vanity Fair. It’s a sort of luxury thinker’s magazine, for people who get their satisfaction out of driving a Jaguar instead of a Mini.”
The Toronto Public Library is running an innovative program wherein, in addition to books and other types of media you might expect, you can also check out people; specifically, this Human Library gives you access to folks with an interesting job or story to tell, like a journalist, a Buddhist monk and a cancer survivor.
“The blackly comic energy of Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts—its caustic ebullience, the strange buoyancy of its suffering—is a remarkably American achievement, a kind of death-dance capered on the corpse of a vividly rendered early 1930s Manhattan.” On Miss Lonelyhearts, the darkest American masterpiece.
East Coasters can prepare for Hurricane Irene by reading Hart Crane‘s “O Carib Isle” (via W.W. Norton & Co.) or William Carlos Williams‘ “The Hurricane” (via Proustitute). The Book Bench has also compiled a list of “Six Shorts to Read During a Hurricane.”
Want a book blurb from Margaret Atwood? Expect a poem instead. Atwood has retired from the blurbing business and now declines in rhyming verse. “But now I am aging; my brain is all shrunk,/And my adjective store is depleted;/My hair’s getting stringy, I walk as though drunk;/ As a quotester I’m nigh-on defeated.” Pair with our essays on the blurbing blunder: a history of blurbs, blurbs as publicity stunts, and the fundamental question — to blurb or not to blurb?