I could tease and build up Allison Hill‘s article on “Literary Seductions“, or I could just let the first line entice you on its own: “I once slept with a man because he gave me a copy of Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.”
Recommended Reading: This piece by Elisa Gabbert at Guernica Magazine in which she questions whether certain ideas can survive new shifts in language. It’s too bad she didn’t write it in emoji.
Evidently, Alain de Botton has recovered from the unfavorable New York Times review of his latest book, The Pleasures of Sorrow and Work, for which he excoriated reviewer Caleb Crain, claiming that Crain “killed [his] book in the United States.” De Botton was just named Heathrow Airport’s first writer-in-residence. During his week tenure at a desk in Terminal 5, he will record his observations in “real time,” with his typing appearing on a screen behind him. Afterward, the entries will be collected and published as a book, A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary.
Riffing on R&B singer Ernie K-Doe’s one-time statement, Chris Rose writes in the Oxford American, “I’m almost positive that all music, at least all American music, comes from Louisiana.” The essay appears in this year’s OA Southern Music Issue, a reliably excellent source of tunes and writing. Indeed, as Dwight Garner put it in The New York Times, the CDs that accompany each annual issue “practically belong in the Smithsonian.”
Over the course of a half-century, Vladimir Nabokov wrote hundreds of letters to his wife Vera, which are being published in book form this week for the first time. Among other things, they reveal the absurd pet names he invented for her (such as Goosykins and Monkeykins) and display Nabokov musing over whether or not to borrow a friend’s castle for the summer. Also worth reading: our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
David Lipsky writes for Harper’s about Letters to Véra, which collects Vladimir Nabokov’s letters to his wife of fifty-two years. As he puts it, “Companion, agent, live-in editor, bodyguard, and the dedicatee of almost all her husband’s books, Véra Nabokov, née Slonim, has reached a strange elevation in our cultural sky.”
Need a team to root for during today’s Super Bowl? Might I suggest cheering on the team that represents a city angling to become America’s second UNESCO City of Literature? (Related: A few months back, Krakow, Poland, became the seventh city to join the UNESCO bunch.)