Those of you with some knowledge of Pale Fire and Lolita won't be surprised to learn what Nabokov thought of dinner parties. Namely, he thought they were awful, vaguely surreal events, held largely by drunkards with overriding appetites for drama. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein quotes a passage from “The Vane Sisters” to explain why "It’s hard to think of someone you’d want less at a midcentury faculty tea, save maybe a seething Shirley Jackson.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov's Ada, or Ardor.
The Nation expends about 7,500 words to say Malcolm Gladwell is a hack. The source of the umbrage: "a cheerful, conversational voice deployed in a perfectly paced dopamine prose that had the palliative effect of nullifying whatever concerns readers might have about this product or that problem."
Ian Crouch writes for The New Yorker about a new version of The Sun Also Rises, which gives readers a peak into Hemingway's drafts and revisions. Crouch believes that by reading these drafts carefully, one can pick out a "minor manifesto" that "conceives of a book with greater intellectual and artistic ambitions than Hemingway ever produced." In the words of Hemingway's character Jake Barnes, "Isn''t it pretty to think so?" Pair with our own review of the latest edition of The Sun Also Rises.
Over at The Atlantic, Lydia Millet argues for the power and legitimacy of The Lorax's moral message. Millet believes that the heavy-handedness of activist-minded fiction like The Lorax is powerful partly due to "its shamelessness. It pulls no punches; it wears its teacher heart on its sleeve."
"For a novelist, writing letters is writing that is not writing," Ed Park says of P.G. Wodehouse's collected correspondence, A Life in Letters. The Year in Reading alum goes on to note that "a collection of letters is the unconscious narrative the author generates over the years."
The oil boom occurring in North Dakota, Montana, and Canada's Bakken Formation is so frantic right now that ND's unemployment rate is only 3.4%, the lowest in the nation. "Hiring is so frantic," writes Business Week's Bryan Gruley, "the McDonald's in Dickinson [North Dakota] is offering $300 signing bonuses."