If you didn’t make it to BEA this year, first be thankful that you didn’t have to eat any of the food around the Javits Center. Then, check out some of the highlights from the comfort of your desk chair. I recommend Ami Greko and Ryan Chapman’s perennially excellent 7x20x21 panel, which this year featured Nate Silver, Dan Wilbur, and Sheila Heti among others.
Thomas Pynchon defined what he termed “vintage Barthelmismo” as “fictions thoughtfully concocted and comfortably beyond the reach of time.” This moving tribute to Donald Barthelme by Padgett Powell from the forthcoming anthology, A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors, is right in line with Pynchon’s sentiment. Here’s another Barthelme mention from The Millions that you may be interested in.
Few things are more individual than your feelings about e-books. Dustin Illingworth can’t stand them — as he puts it, “books are meant to be handled and smelled.” At Full-Stop, he writes about what this preference reveals about himself. You could also read our tribute to e-book pioneer Michael Hart.
Jonathan Franzen’s Kraus Project should be “a match made in heaven,” writes Jacob Mikanowski, because of how it pairs together “the old hater [Karl Kraus] and the new [Franzen], the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of cultural criticism drawn together across the gulf of a century to take on all comers.” Alas, the end result is instead a “strange and rather discordant experience, like receiving a deep tissue massage while being spat on from a great height.” (Bonus: One of the best London Review of Books openers of all time.)
In 1980, Julio Cortázar gave a series of lectures at Berkeley, which you can now read in the slim, simply-titled volume Literature Class. Among the highlights? This sentence: “I had lived with a complete feeling of familiarity with the fantastic because it seemed as acceptable to me, as possible and as real, as the fact of eating soup at eight o’clock in the evening.”