Vince Manapat’s interview with NYRB Classics editor Edwin Frank provides an interesting (if slightly erroneous) history of how the publisher got started. If you come away from the interview wondering what Mr. Frank recommends reading, then, ta-da! and look no further.
Another big week for books is headlined by Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue (the book’s opening lines) and Junot Díaz’s This Is How You Lose Her. Also out are Susan Straight’s Between Heaven and Here, touted debuts The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu and The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, How Music Works by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, and Bob Woodward’s latest Beltway tick-tock The Price of Politics.
Readers of The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature most likely have a good idea of just how much the late Norman Mailer was a wellspring of jokes about writers. The pugilistic novelist, journalist and failed mayoral candidate did choose to title a collection of his work Advertisements for Myself, after all. Yet as Andrew O’Hagan notes in the LRB, it’s hard not to admire the cojones on a guy who once told a prominent editor he was “still too young and too arrogant to care to write the kind of high-grade horseshit you print in Harper’s Bazaar.”
Stephanie Danler’s best-selling, semi-autobiographical novel, Sweetbitter, has been given the green light by Starz network for a six-episode series. “As she learns the ropes of restaurant work, [Tess] falls for bad-boy bartender Jake, and makes her first forays into wine, drugs, lust, betrayal and adulthood,” writes the Los Angeles Times. Pair with Jason Arthur‘s essay on novels about work.
“Every one of these books is a herd of animals.” The Atlantic reports that a group of archaeologists and geneticists in the UK have used mere crumbs of parchment to study the DNA of several thousand-year-old illuminated manuscripts, the pages of which were made of cow and sheep skins.
In a piece for Aeon, D. Watkins – who previously blew onto the scene with his Salon essay, “Too Poor for Pop Culture” – looks into “the two Baltimores” he has known. Tracing the city’s history back to the Civil War, he defines the city as “a place split on ideologies because it’s too south to be north and too north to be south.”
When a professor of literature wrote Flannery O’Connor for a master key for interpreting her story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” he probably did not expect her particularly unimpressed reply: “Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.” (Via the ever-excellent Letters of Note.)