George Whitman, owner of the storied Parisian English-language bookstore Shakespeare & Company, died this week at the age of 98.
Legend has it that Hemingway, after reading a review of his work that he didn’t like, strode into the reviewer’s office and slapped him across the face with a book. Upset over a line that questioned his bravado — the line compared his writing style to “wearing false hair on the chest” — Hemingway tore off his shirt to prove his chest hair was real. This week, The New Republic republished the article that started the fight. (For a lighter take on the author, you could read Stephanie Bernhard on cooking recipes in Hemingway’s fiction.)
Among the many quotable and occasionally perplexing lines in this interview with V. S. Naipual is this one, which the Bend In The River author drops upon hearing that his interviewer, Isaac Chotiner, is a fan of P. G. Wodehouse: “I can’t read Wodehouse. The thought of, shall we say, facing three or four months of nothing but Wodehouse novels fills me with horror.”
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.)
Eve Bowen takes a trip to “Gorey Preserved,” an exhibition of “nearly every edition of every work published by [Edward] Gorey, in addition to illustrations for dust jackets and magazines, etchings, posters, and design ephemera,” on display at Columbia University until August 10th. Those unable to attend need not fret—Bowen walk readers through a history of the prolific illustrator’s work and includes plenty of links to his drawings online.
For years, Jang Jin Sung traveled within Kim Jong-il’s inner circle. As North Korea’s official poet laureate, he was tasked with “writing epic poems for [the] dictator … and overseeing inter-Korean espionage.” But in 2004, fearing a charge of treason, Sung fled the country, becoming one of the nation’s most high-profile defectors. Recently, Sung – who just published his memoir – spoke with Maclean’s about his life, his escape, and literature.