Skateboarder Patrik Wallner snuck some video footage of North Korea around the time of the 100th birthday celebrations for its deceased ruler Kim Il-Sung. His footage shines a vivid and personal light on what’s otherwise a very concealed and distant nation.
To honor Peter Matthiessen, who passed away over the weekend, The New Yorker unlocked part of one of the author’s best pieces of travel writing. The piece, titled “The Last Wilderness,” follows Matthiessen as he travels down the Amazon River. (His last novel comes out this week, as well.)
Great news for food lovers and over-thinkers everywhere: Gastronomica, the James Beard Award winning journal that takes a highminded approach to food and taste, recently began publishing writing online. Start with this lovely long article on the competition between Chinese and French black truffles. Or with a slightly cheeky revision of Pierre Bourdieu’s food space, if that’s more your, um, cup of tea.
“Art isn’t a footrace. No one comes in first place. Greatness is not a universally agreed-upon value. … America isn’t one story. It’s a layered and diverse array of identities, individual and collective, forged on contradictory realities that are imbued with and denied privilege and power. Our obsession with the Great American Novel is perhaps evidence of the even greater truth that it’s impossible for one to exist. As Americans, we keep looking anyway.” Cheryl Strayed and Adam Kirsch discuss the Great American Novel in this week’s New York Times Bookends. For a slightly different take, consider the 9 novels our experts chose as the Greatest American novels, from Moby-Dick to The Godfather.
In 1993, River Phoenix was working on Dark Blood, an independent film that was supposed to be the underdog surprise of the year. But when Phoenix died three weeks before shooting was supposed to wrap, the project stopped in its tracks. Now, almost 20 years later, the original director and editor are piecing the bits together, and they plan on screening it at the Netherlands Film Festival in September.
Out this week: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (who Angela Qian wrote about for The Millions in September); We Are Water by Wally Lamb; Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins; Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books by Claudia Roth Pierpont; and The Eternal Wonder, a recently discovered novel by Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck. For more on these and other new books, check out our Great Second-half 2013 Book Preview.
“An easel stood just inside the big glass doorway when I entered the store. On it leaned my author photo, the one from the back cover of Domestic Violets, and it was fucking enormous. It was the size of a photo you’d expect to see if Bono had been appearing at Barnes & Noble, Bill Clinton maybe, or perhaps the Reverend Desmund Tutu. For a full 30 seconds I stood there and looked at the gigantic, painstakingly airbrushed picture of myself. An elderly couple walked in and did a double take when they saw a stunned-looking me looking at me. ‘It’s too big,’ I told them.” This is what you do when no one shows up to your reading.