Paris Review editor Lorin Stein recommends a couple of self-help books to one reader in this week’s mail blog. “Let your self-help freak flag fly!” he writes. Such might put you in esteemed company. As Maria Bustillos pointed out in her poignant investigation for The Awl, David Foster Wallace treasured many self help books.
“Over three decades of almost constant composing and recording, he would amass over sixty LPs, running the gamut from early records with his band the Mothers of Invention that helped to create the milieu we think of as the Sixties, to caustic send-ups of that same counterculture, doo-wop pastiche, tape cut-ups, film scores, gonzo cabaret, big-band charts, way out prog, show tunes, music composed entirely on and for the Synclavier digital sampler, full-score orchestral music, and thousands of scabrous, exploratory guitar solos.” On Frank Zappa, music theory wizard and occasional public intellectual.
“With each step, I had to remind myself to touch pavement again, as if in a moment’s forgetfulness I might slip the earth’s magnetic pull and go pinwheeling over Sydney Harbor and out to sea,” our own Michael Bourne writes in his Dispatches column at The Common, “Stanley Street.”
Historian Robert A. Caro, author of The Power Broker, has spent 35 years researching and writing about the life and presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Last Tuesday, devoted fans were thrilled to learn that the fourth book in his LBJ saga is due out in May. It will be entitled The Passage of Power, and it will focus on the years between 1958 and 1964.
“Andre Dubus’s literary superpower is to hit upon that one thing about a character that makes him him, or her her. And in so doing, with subtle, clever details—breadcrumbs on the trail to the nucleus of a character—he makes a reader want to keep going, because she knows exactly who these people are and has to know what happens to them.” On the Selected Stories of Andre Dubus.