When Pleasanton mom Siah Fried and her co-author wrote Tales from Swankville, a book about hyper-competitive parenting in suburbia, they didn’t expect their neighbors to take it so personally.
Expert walker and poet Jon Cotner, coauthor of Ten Walks/Two Talks, will lead a set of excursions on NYC streets during the month of June. Walkers will be given two lines to repeat to strangers, in an attempt to break down social barriers: “Anonymity dissolves. Spontaneous societies arise.”
“The American poem was not in a grave at that time; not by any measure. There was achievement, experiment, excitement. But there was also confinement. It could be felt in the air, in an ethos of conditional acceptance. A young woman poet was not yet a familiar sight. When Auden remarked about [Adrienne] Rich’s poems, after choosing her as a Yale Younger Poet, that they were ‘neatly and modestly dressed,’ it sounded more like a counsel for the nursery than acclaim for a new writer.” At The New Republic, Eavan Boland reflects on the legacy of the poet, whose posthumous collection, Later Poems, came out last week.
I thoroughly enjoyed the second installment of Emdashes’ Ask the New Yorker Librarians series.Michiko Kakutani hates Jonathan Franzen’s new memoir, The Discomfort Zone. Kakutani’s wrath filled pen aside, Ed explains why she’s right, and I have to agree. I looked back through the archives here and realized I hadn’t elaborated on it much beyond writing back in 2003 that “Franzen’s non-fiction bugs the heck out of me,” but it put me off enough that I avoided reading The Corrections for a long time because of it.Speaking of reviews, it’s a good thing Bob Dylan didn’t get the Franzen treatment. He tells contactmusic.com that while he doesn’t care about music reviews, the reviews for Chronicles Vol. 1 meant a lot to him: “Most people who write about music, they have no idea what if feels like to play it, but, with the book I wrote, I thought, ‘The people who are writing reviews of this book, man, they know what the hell they’re talking about. They know how to write a book, they know more about it than me.’ The reviews of this book, some of ’em almost made me cry – in a good way. I’d never felt that from a music critic, ever.”Even though it seems like there’s another “book banning” story in the news every week, the AP reports that the 405 challenges reported to the American Library Association last year is the smallest number since they started keeping track in the early 1980s. The challenges have dropped by more than half since the ALA started Banned Books Week to promote free expression. Kudos to the librarians.The second most brilliant magazine in the world (refer to the top item in this list for the first), The Economist has a characteristically well-considered a piece on the newspaper industry’s timid efforts to embrace the Internet. Thanks to Millions contributor Andrew for sending this along.
Another packed line-up: New this week is Stephen King’s 11/22/63, Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetary, Ingo Schulze’s, and Adam and Evelyn (all three of which were previewed by us). We also have new biographies of Kurt Vonnegut and Catherine the Great. And new in paperback, sometime Millions contributor Matthew Gallaway’s The Metropolis Case.
Ever since our literary Tumblr round-up, we’ve been inundated with suggestions for a Part 2. Well, I can assure you, the “Least Helpful” Tumblr dedicated to awful Amazon and Goodreads reviews would make that cut if (and when) that sequel appears. (Hat tip to our own Lydia Kiesling for the link.)