And now for something completely different, a book review of Shaq’s new memoir.
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” NPR reminds us of this great quote from Haruki Murakami before rounding up its five favorite books in translation for 2016, including Yoko Tawada‘s Memoirs of a Polar Bear (originally published in German) and The Clouds by Juan José Saer. And from our archives: translator Alison Anderson on “Ferrante Fever” and what a great translation adds to the original work.
Want a book blurb from Margaret Atwood? Expect a poem instead. Atwood has retired from the blurbing business and now declines in rhyming verse. “But now I am aging; my brain is all shrunk,/And my adjective store is depleted;/My hair’s getting stringy, I walk as though drunk;/ As a quotester I’m nigh-on defeated.” Pair with our essays on the blurbing blunder: a history of blurbs, blurbs as publicity stunts, and the fundamental question — to blurb or not to blurb?
Following their prosecution for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” against the Russian Orthodox Church, Russian punk group Pussy Riot has been dispatched to correctional colony IK 14. As it happens, the colony is particularly religious. Coincidence? Judith Pallot is skeptical.
Authors are known to mine material from their personal relationships for their writing, but John Updike found inspiration from his interviews. After journalist William Ecenbarger wrote a profile of Updike in 1983, he found himself the subject of an Updike short story. Pair with: Our review of Updike’s Collected Stories.
The VQR‘s last issue, “The Soviet Ghost,” was one of the most heart-wrenching reading experiences I’ve had in a long time. Now it’s got a series of video interviews with Chernobyl workers to seriously depress (and also greatly inform) you all over again.
Here are three pieces about horror in honor of 2012 being the centenary of Bram Stoker’s death. 1) Yazan al-Saadi’s fascinating survey of Arabic horror cinema, which is not only “about what can frighten most Arab audiences, [but is] … also a chronicle of the abnormalities and dysfunctions lacing the underbelly of Arabic cinema as a whole.” 2) Ed Park’s essay on “the audacious enterprise” of Rosemary’s Baby. 3) Stuart Kelly’s entreaty for modern writers of horror to “raise its game.”