Much fuss was made about Barack Obama’s ex-girlfriends this week, as an excerpt from David Maraniss’ forthcoming Barack Obama: The Story was published in Vanity Fair. Of course, we sophisticated book readers care less about the man’s old flames than we do his literary pursuits, right? That’s why Mr. President’s analysis of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” is so interesting.
Leading Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn has been working on a three-volume biography of the Liverpool band for almost a decade. Tentatively titled The Beatles: The Complete Story, the first installment was due for a publication date this year. Unfortunately, Volume One, which tracks the group from the beginning through December 1962, has hit yet another delay, and fans likely won’t see it until 2013. As Lewisohn says, the accuracy takes time, and “the whole ethos of the project is ‘do the job properly’.” Lewisohn’s last work was the 2006 Complete Beatles Recording Sessions.
"Whenever I tried to invent a character or a situation, I felt a stab of guilt. I could hear my teacher's quavering voice saying, Write what you know! Why had she insisted on this so vociferously?" Writing class mantras are easy to impart but they are also easily misinterpreted. A.X. Ahmad, author of The Last Taxi Ride and The Caretaker, learns this truth the hard way as he tries to become a writer following a personal upheaval. Pair with Ahmad's Millions essay on "The Thriller, Reinvented."
In the NYRB, a new article on Chris Ware, accompanied by an old joke -- dreamt up by none other than Gore Vidal -- that a hypothetical New York Review of Comic Books might replace its eponymous predecessor. Last week, our own Mark O’Connell reviewed Mr. Ware’s latest book.
George Perec's I Remember, a series of aphoristic memories modeled after Joe Brainard's volume of the same name, are finally making their way into English translation. The Paris Review has an excerpt. "I remember that Stendhal liked spinach... I remember that one of the first decisions that de Gaulle took on coming to power was to abolish the belt worn with jackets in the military."
Precocious hardly begins to describe the early work of now-famous child fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson. If you're like me--a clueless/skeptical johnny-come-lately--check out this post, in which Tavi documents and explains the Blanche DuBois outfit she's worn to school and her take on Tennessee Williams' most famous heroine.