Kathryn Schulz’s meditation on insomnia, on staying up late and writing deep into the night.
The political unrest in Moscow is significant and worth covering, but it’s important to verify the facts. Over the weekend, a picture of an enormous crowd went viral, and it was billed as an image of anti-Putin demonstrations. This is not true. The image is actually from a 1991 rally in which protesters called for Mikhail Gorbachev’s resignation. It even appears in this Atlantic article from December, 2011.
New this week: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; American Innovations by Rivka Galchen; The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham; The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry; An Untamed State by Rumpus editor and Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay; Wonderland by Stacey D’Erasmo; The Painter by Peter Heller; and Friday Was the Bomb by Millions contributor Nathan Deuel.
Tom Wolfe has a chance to defend (er, ward off?) his 2004 “Bad Sex Award” following Literary Review‘s decision to nominate him for this year’s top honors (er, dishonors?). The UK publication has tapped Back to Blood and seven others for this year’s shortlist — and, despite popular demand, they managed to spare J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. For some revealing passages from Wolfe’s book, check out my review.
In the first two lines of a piece in the latest New Yorker about the Alaskan poet Olena Kalytiak Davis, Dan Chiasson points out that her new book, The Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems, has an undeniably excellent title. In describing her appeal, he says that her submissions to the canon are “anti-submissions,” by which he means that she actively rejects association with more famous poets. “Davis’s professed unworthiness is one of many tricky manifestations of her ambition,” he writes.
We’ve heard about the weak dollar making things tough on Canadian readers, but the pain is being felt by Canadian publishers as well, as profit margins diminish. The latest casualty is publisher Raincoast Books.Philip Agee died today. His Inside the Company in 1973 may have created a modern day genre, one that would be contributed to by many former agents, the CIA tell-all.The Atlantic reaches deep into the archives to bring us “The History of Children’s Books,” from 1888:It is hard to imagine a world without books for children. There have been children’s stories and folk-tales ever since man first learned to speak. “Many of them,” in Thackeray’s words, “have been narrated, almost in their present shape, for thousands of years since, to little copper-colored Sanscrit children. The very same tale has been heard by the Northmen Vikings, as they lay on their shields on deck; and by the Arabs, couched under the stars in the Syrian plains, when the flocks were gathered in, and the mares were picketed by the tents.” Children’s books, however, are a late growth of literature. Miss Yonge says, “Up to the Georgian era there were no books at all for children or the poor, excepting the class-books containing old ballads, such as Chevy Chase, and short tales, such as The King and the Cobbler, Whittington and his Cat.” We shall nevertheless see that there were English books for children (and it is with no others that we have to deal) long before this time.