Forget the Dos Equis guy. John Fairfax was truly "the most interesting man in the world" and, if you don't believe me, read this series of lines from his actual obituary: "At 9, he settled a dispute with a pistol. At 13, he lit out for the Amazon jungle. At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar. Afterward he was apprenticed to a pirate."
In addition to House of Holes' recent coverage in the New York Review of Books and Open Letters Monthly (and on The Millions), the latest edition of The Paris Review features an interview with "mad scientist of smut" Nicholson Baker. (You can check out an excerpt here.) But for those still unsatisfied, Adam Wilson has assembled a canon of raunchy literature.
Sergeant Ed Drew's tintypes of the war in Afghanistan are the first tintypes made in a combat zone since The Civil War. Drew made them for his son. "I wanted him to know his father in the event that I was killed in action and it became less important that my work was done in tintype than that I could show the humanity of war in the eyes of airmen I fly combat missions with," he said.
“What [Vladimir] Nabokov is actually doing in Lolita is deliberately drawing on all manner of anti-Semitic propaganda, from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Nazi caricatures of the Jewish ‘type,’ to create in Humbert Humbert the anti-Semitic cliché of legend, rather as, say, Chaucer draws on medieval misogynist writings to create in the figure of the Wife of Bath the archetypal shrew of his male audience’s nightmares.”
In spite of the title of her blog post, Lily Meyer doesn’t think Ann Patchett is really an enemy of Zadie Smith. Instead, she thinks the two authors play opposing roles in her life, thanks largely to the different effects their books have on her perceptions. At the Ploughshares blog, she contrasts their novels, using excerpts from White Teeth and Bel Canto. Related: Kevin Charles Redmon’s review of Patchett's novel State of Wonder.
Some world literature links: Sign and Sight offers the best introduction to Herta Müller I've been able to find...The Complete Review gets the ball rolling on Roberto Bolaño's (very) early novel Monsieur Pain, forthcoming from New Directions...Ingo Schulze, author of the quietly astonishing New Lives and the forthcoming One More Story, talks to The Toronto Star (via)...The NBCC features Yu Hua's Brothers...Claudio Magris is crowned the king of Frankfurt...Maud Newton hails Juan Gabriel Vásquez's "inventive and intricately plotted" The Informers...The Brooklyn Rail and Transcript both offer handsome online digests of short stories from around the world.