Charles Dickens turns 200 in February, which is one good explanation for two new biographies (Charles Dickens: A Life) and (Becoming Dickens) appearing just in time. But even more importantly, why is now the perfect time to read him? Here’s one hint: the man’s vast social imagination.
“Why, hello there! — I was just appraising some rare PDFs in the back room when I heard you come in. Feel free to peruse our inventory, and if you have any questions, please allow me—one of the world’s foremost authorities on and purveyors of fine electronic books—to act as your steward through the wonderfully esoteric world of antique eBook collecting.”
"This is how he justified what he did even as he knew what kind of parent he’d become, the kind that used to make him gag as recently as two months ago. The ones who blithely assumed their online friends were gluttons for punishment. Here’s my baby lying on his back! And here’s my baby also lying on his back! And how about this one: blurry baby on his back! Good God, the vanity of it all, the epic self-centeredness. He knew all this, and still he uploaded eleven pictures of Brian." An excerpt of Victor LaValle's new novel The Changeling. (You could also read our interview with the author from last year.)
The media world is abuzz about a former Harper's Bazaar intern suing parent company Hearst for allegedly violating labor laws for not paying her (With reactions ranging from "She'll never work in this town again." to "Good for her. It's about time!"). At least she didn't get sucked into HuffPo's aggregation turbine.
Three finalists have been named for this year’s $10,000 Albertine Prize: Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi, The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal, and Bardo or Not Bardo by Antoine Volodine. Voting is open until Sunday, April 30th. Also, you can read more about Volodine’s work courtesy of Grant Munroe.
"Did not really sleep: no Xanax / yesterday, which means I won’t sleep, / then the next night is usually OK, / Xanax or no. It’s Christmas Eve / in Spain, the important day. We’ll / break Dorota’s wafer. My mood / is less good than yesterday when / I would call it ‘normal’." A few new poems by Kathryn Maris at 3:AM Magazine.
"But reading Finnegans Wake is more than a matter of collecting one’s favorite quotations – even if there is a huge pleasure in that, especially if you admire truly terrible jokes." Michael Wood writes an essay on James Joyce, Lewis Carroll, and the origins of clever wordplay for the London Review of Books.
"Being a judge for the Man Booker prize has at times felt like being part of a team of archaeologists excavating some vast buried city. Once the dust has settled – after nine months of reading – you stand back to survey your labours and realise all that’s left is a small pile of gleaming fragments. I hadn’t expected the process to be quite so emotionally exhausting. Nor had I thought it would be quite so exhilarating." In case you're curious, a Man Booker Prize arbiter offers up his reflections on the judging process. See also: the shortlist itself, which has surprised many readers!