Graduation season is upon us, and college students across the nation are listening to esteemed commencement speakers. Some get treated to the likes of Bill Watterson, Jon Stewart, or Barbara Kingsolver. (I got to listen to The Rock.) In the thrill of the moment, it feels like it hardly matters who’s at the podium. One wonders if audiences really grasp the material in these speeches right away, or if the speaker’s words only become clear later on. Inspired by David Foster Wallace’s iconic Kenyon address in 2005, our own Kevin Hartnett tried to find out.
A new, annotated edition of Mein Kampf is slated for release sometime next week, and it’s already poised to be a bestseller in Germany. The edition, which aims to “unmask his false allegations, whitewashing and outright lies,” will debut at number 20 on the bestseller list after increased demand bumped the initial print run up to 15,000 copies.
For over twenty years, from the thirties through the fifties, a group of Oxford writers who called themselves The Inklings met weekly to drink, exchange ideas and read aloud their drafts. Though J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were easily their most famous members, the group had other notable figures, among them the language historian Arthur Owen Barfield. In The Chronicle of Higher Education, a history of the group.
The worst thing about owning your own bookstore? According to Garrison Keillor, it’s that “you do not get a 10 percent discount when you buy books. I don’t know why. It was explained to me once, and I didn’t understand. I mean, I’m the owner, right? But no, that’s not how it’s done.”
In 1979, William Gaddis taught a course at Bard College on “The Literature of Failure,” examining works that somehow focused on personal failure or insufficiency. These included, among other books, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays, as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In Bookforum, Casey Michael Henry takes on a related genre: the literature of obsolescence. You could also read James Cappio on meeting Gaddis in person.