When I was young, my mother always told me I should eat my carrots so my vision would improve. For twenty four years, I’ve obeyed. But now it seems I’ve been living a lie all this time. (Bonus carrot link: the most common type used to be purple, but orange was normalized to please the Dutch monarchy.)
On Zadie Smith in the Guardian: The new novel arrived fully-formed: Zadie Smith woke up one morning, and On Beauty was all there, in her head. She wanted to write a long marriage – she’d just got married herself, was curious what 30 years of it would be like – and she had a plot. When she described it to her new husband, poet and novelist Nick Laird, however, he pointed out she was simply rewriting Howards End. But she has never been afraid of tribute, and [E.M.] Forster was a “first love”; she had a couple of serious wobbles but this did not put her off.The Guardian also gives the book a good review. On Beauty comes out September 13.Every once in a while I spot an interesting looking item in those ads at the top of the page. Today I saw one for Out of Eden: Odyssey of Ecological Invasion by Alan Burdick. It looks like the sort of book you’d like if you like Jared Diamond’s books. It describes how different invasive species have managed to relocate to new parts of the globe.Tattoos and literature are becoming ever more enmeshed, it seems. Recent novels by Jill Ciment and John Irving dwell on tattoos, and now a Brooklyn writer, Shelley Jackson, “has been having volunteers tattooed with individual words of her 2,095-word short story (“Skin”) since 2003. Only 700 words remain to be tattooed.” Read about it here.Another online book-tracking and tagging application: Reader2
Take a break from watching the snowboarding and skating at the Winter Olympics, and read some Russian literature instead. At NPR, Andrew D. Kaufman recommends three books to learn more about the Caucasus. For more on Russian literature, read our own Nick Moran’s essay on duels in Russian fiction.
“Because I now know that the man who had come to the door was my mother’s stalker, I’ve injected the memory of his arrival at my childhood home with more detail than I actually possess.” From Catapult, the latest installment of “After a Fashion,” writer Esmé Weijun Wang’s monthly column examining articles of clothing she owns and the stories behind them. Consider also our review of Women In Clothes, an anthology resulting from the collaboration of authors Sheila Heti and Heidi Julavits.
“As you can see here, it’s all about desire and longing.” Yes it is, Ragnar, yes it is. Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson is fascinated by what he calls “the oppressiveness of western culture claustrophobia.” His newest work, Bonjour, has shifted focus to poke fun at the ways in which the rest of the world elevates French sensibilities.