Eliza Griswold’s got a great essay up on The Poetry Foundation’s website. It’s about poetry and reportage in Lampedusa, the largest island in the Italian Pelagie chain.
“Every sense cleared about three hundred percent and stood up on its hind legs waving its feelers.” Eighty years ago, James Agee got an assignment that entered him into history, though not during his lifetime. Let us now celebrate Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. See also: our essay on famous artist-writer collaborations, like Agee's with Walker Evans.
At The Awl, James S. Murphy goes in-depth on the Stony Brook study, which I wrote about last week, that identified characteristics of historically successful books. In making a point about the publishing industry, he references the sale of our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s debut novel.
The Great Gatsby debuted in 1925 to poor sales and mediocre reviews. So how did it become one of the most famous novels in America? At Slate, Cristina Hartmann explains how Fitzgerald’s opus, which netted the author royalties worth a grand total of $13 in his lifetime, went on to become a classic. Related: our own Bill Morris on a book about the novel by Sarah Churchwell. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
Here's a piece of news you likely didn't see coming: David Duchovny has published a novel. Titled Holy Cow, it deals, in the words of interviewer Taffy Brodesser-Akner, with "a traumatized cow, a sassy turkey and a pig converting to Judaism." She talks with the X-Files star in this week's Times Magazine.
In The Nation, Mark Oppenheimer reviews Janet Malcolm’s Forty-one False Starts, which includes the New Yorker staff writer’s early works of criticism. The problem, he writes, with her and most Western critics? “She is a snob, but wishes she weren’t.” (ICYMI: we published a review a few weeks ago.)
Some criminals in my home town of Calgary, Alberta, were recently picked up in a drug bust. Their drugs, weapons, and cash were all confiscated. But did the cops take away their autographed copy of Crime School: Money Laundering? Full credit: Moby Lives totally scooped us on this thrilling story of criminal readers.