Over at Salon, Joel Whitney explains how The Paris Review worked with the CIA and “served, in part, as a covert international weapon of soft power.” While the possibility is certainly tantalizing, it’s necessary to read Whitney’s article alongside Carolyn Kellogg’s piece in the LA Times, which notes how “the threads of the article … become unsupportably tenuous” as it carries on.
Coming this fall: a newly published autobiography that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote before she decided to retool her life story into the Little House on the Prairie books. Originally intended for an adult audience, Pioneer Girl gives a decidedly unsanitized account of Ingalls Wilder’s life, including love triangles, deadbeat fathers and episodes of drunken abuse. In The Telegraph, Rosa Prince compiles a preview of the new book.
Following up her post about Judy Blume’s Forever, our own Lydia Kiesling writes about Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita for PEN American Center’s ongoing series for Banned Books Month. It's a book, Kiesling writes, which serves as an "exhibition of a uniquely talented person at the zenith of his powers." (This isn’t the first time she’s discussed the book, by the way.)
“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.
Christopher Lee, perhaps best known to American audiences as the man who played Count Dooku (Star Wars) and Saruman (Lord of the Rings), is also an accomplished singer and musician. Evidently, he’s also quite literary, as his most recent project — The Metal Knight — demonstrates. To wit: the album was inspired by Don Quixote. (Trailer here.)
“Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—T. S. Eliot is of this type.” President Obama wrote these words as a twenty-two-year-old student, but Edward Mendelson argues that Obama’s words as a literary critic reveal his tendencies as a politician. Check out our own Michael Bourne’s review of Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, where Obama's letter was originally published.