Caitlin Flanagan’s long Atlantic piece on Joan Didion has sparked a lot of conversation. Among the article’s contentious lines: “to really love Joan Didion … you have to be female.”
In his column in the Chicago Tribune today, Eric Zorn describes a particularly ugly incident that occurred at a library not far from where I live. Somebody set fire to a number of books at the John Merlo branch of the Chicago Public Library. Making matters worse, it appears as though the arsonist targeted the gay and lesbian books section of the library, which itself is located in a neighborhood with a large gay population. From Zorn’s column: Staffers detected the fire quickly and used an extinguisher to put it out before anyone was hurt. The library remained open, and if you visit there today, the only reminders of the incident are gaps on several shelves where destroyed books used to sit.But the location makes it a bigger event. For both symbolic and safety reasons, the idea of arson in the stacks, no matter how relatively unsuccessful, is chilling. Public libraries are not only embodiments of liberty but, with all that paper, prospective tinderboxes.More chilling still to many is that the unknown arsonist chose to set the fire in the heart of the Chicago area’s largest unified collection of gay and lesbian-oriented books.Zorn explores the topic further at his blog explaining why he decided to devote his column to what was, admittedly, a very minor fire, wondering “Do we not, in some ways, magnify the power of a hate crime when we publicize it?”I’m glad he decided to write the column. Coming on the heels of a book-banning attempt in a nearby school district, it’s been a rough couple of months for books in the Chicago area.Update: It turns out it wasn’t a hate crime. As Eric Zorn explains, they caught the culprit, a 21-year-old homeless woman who set the fire because “she was angry at library staff for being rude to her.”
HBO turned down the television adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, despite an all-star crew: Franzen himself adapted the novel to television, Noah Baumbach promised to direct the series, and Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal were cast as leads. Novelist A-J Aronstein can now breath a sigh of relief; they won’t be filming The Corrections at anyone’s house.
A tipster has pointed us to a mention of what seems to be a new Dave Eggers novel on the back cover of a catalog from a Dutch publisher. the title translates loosely to A Hologram for the King. A description from a Dutch bookselling site (again translated poorly by Google Translate) suggest that the book will follow an American in Saudi Arabia where he tries to sell holographic technology to King Abdullah. We’ve seen no other mentions of this book anywhere, and so far McSweeney’s hasn’t responded to our questions. Anyone out there know more?