Azadeh Moaveni writes about what it was like to own her dog, named London, in Iran: “Most Turks, like most Iranians, recoiled from dogs as though they were grotesque vermin; only ‘guard’ dogs, charged with protecting humans and their goods, were deemed less offensive, though still repellent.” To Moaveni, it was like cultural rebellion.
Loudpoet has an interview with former Soft Skull Press publisher Richard Nash about his new social publishing venture Cursor. "“Social” is taking the book and making it much easier to have a conversation with the book and its writer, and have conversations around the book and its writer." Is this a way forward for beleaguered publishers? (via The Lone Gunman)
It was, in retrospect, only a matter of time until someone spotted the gap in the market and set up a blog dedicated exclusively to images of guys who sort of look like (but crucially are not) David Foster Wallace. A tip of the bandana to Matt Bucher for highlighting this via Twitter.
For The New Yorker Alex Ross describes the role Nebraska's prairies played in Willa Cather's writing, his encounters with Cather people, and how he became one himself. "From this roughshod Europe of the mind, Cather also emerged with a complex understanding of American identity. Her symphonic landscapes are inflected with myriad accents, cultures, personal narratives—all stored away in a prodigious memory. "
Books by Friends, a semi-regular feature at The Atlantic, sees writer James Fallows recommend the works of authors he knows. This week, he praises a book on the history of flight, a prediction for the economy and a jeremiad on American politics by Gary Hart. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on Fallows and American decline.
Lolita has been, for decades, a great inspiration to cover designers, and all those great covers inspired architect John Bertram to hold his own cover design contest to see who could best re-imagine Nabokov's classic. The resulting competition has now inspired a book, coming in August, with a cover by designers Sulki & Min that references a letter Nabokov sent to his American publisher, Walter J. Minton of Putnam, in April 1959 about the cover design for Lolita. "I want pure colors, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls. If we cannot find that kind of artistic and virile painting, let us settle for an immaculate white jacket (rough texture paper instead of the usual glossy kind), with LOLITA in bold black lettering." More: An interview with Bertram.
“I suspect ‘chess rage’ and ‘road rage’ are neighboring neural impulses.” Tom Russell at Guernica Magazine has written a fascinating essay on a summer spent playing chess in Bryant Park and the unexpected artistic beauty of the game. Here’s a cursorily-related review of The Chess Machine, a book which features an unbeatable chess-playing automaton controlled by a dwarf.