In Karen Russell‘s Swamplandia!, there is an enchanting place known as the abandoned Library Boat. “It held a cargo of books,” Ava Bigtree explains, “In the thirties and forties, Harrel M. Crow, a fisherman and bibliophile, had piloted the schooner around our part of the swamp delivering books to the scattered islanders. Then Harrel M. Crow died and I guess that was it for the door-to-door service. But his Library Boat, miraculously, had survived on the rocky island, unscavenged, undestroyed by hurricanes. It was an open secret, utilized by all our neighbors.” Now something similar has moored in England’s canals. And, across the Atlantic, one New Yorker is keeping his own open secret.
Now that the Library of Congress is shut down, it’s as good a time as any to remember why we have it in the first place. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova looks through a collection of vintage catalog cards, two of which include early entries for A Room of One’s Own and Ulysses.
If you’ve ever heard that literary skill is synonymous with a good memory, you’ve likely bemoaned your own forgetfulness, especially when it comes to important things. Tim Parks felt the same way, until he read a new book on forgetting, which led him to wonder how much knowledge we can retain. In The New York Review of Books, he tackles the paradox of the reader’s memory. You could also read our own Mark O’Connell’s review of Parks’s book Italian Ways.
In 2002, David Friedman thought of a question he wanted to ask Oliver Sacks, on the topic of 3D glasses and “pseudoscopic” vision. A week after he sent the letter, he received a typewritten reply, complete with diagrams. At The Morning News, a copy of the letter he received, along with background.