Tim Weiner won the Pulitzer Prize for Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. Then, four years after its publication, he received a box of J. Edgar Hoover’s “personal files on [FBI] intelligence operations between 1945 and 1972” from a well-connected D.C. lawyer. That treasure trove of information has since wound up in his recently published book, Enemies: A History of the FBI, and he sat with NPR’s Terry Gross to talk all about it.
Out this week: The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich; Madame Zero by Sarah Hall; Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips; Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed; and Careers for Women by Joanna Scott. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
"There’s more to life than writing and publishing fiction. There is another way entirely, amazed as I am to discover it at this late date," Philip Roth said in an interview with Cynthia Haven for Stanford's The Book Haven. Besides his retirement from writing, Roth also discussed why he doesn't consider himself an American-Jewish writer and his book The Ghost Writer. For more Roth, read our essay on lessons you can learn from his work.
Writer’s block: the eternal struggle, right? Thankfully, Ted Scheinman asked some of his favorite writers for their remedies, and he compiled them into a helpful list. “Do try these solutions, alone or in combination,” he urges. “’Mix and match’ is the cry.” (Related: You can also check out the “daily routines of famous creative people” for inspiration, as well.)
"There are people who believe that readers and writers—at least the right kind of readers and writers—are special snowflakes, existing on a more exalted plane than mere mortals. Book people are educated. They are privileged. They are brave enough to speak out when the emperor shows up naked. They sup on nectar from flowers grown on the sunny slopes of Mount Olympus, harvested by chiton-wearing MFA candidates." Jennifer Weiner responds to bad Amazon reviews, book blogs, and elitist " book people" in an essay for The New Republic. We especially enjoy the line about the chitons.
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."