Over at Threepenny Review, Jess Row expounds on “blandness” in the work of Haruki Murakami, and particularly in his 2.8 lb. tome 1Q84—a book tabbed by Charles Baxter in last year’s Year in Reading as the best he’d read all year. Row contemplates the way Murakami’s characters and sentences “almost never lose this placid, observant neutrality,” or “continuous monotone.”
David Foster Wallace wrote the best bitter takedown (PDF) of the cruise ship industry ever, but he only had to endure a 7-night vacation. Imagine his horror, then, if he had been forced to spend significant time on The World, a $20,000+/month ship that continuously circumnavigates the world and has permanent passengers in its 165 private residences. For a more detailed glimpse at life on board the ship, check out Anthony Bourdain’s Gourmet piece on his 2003 visit.
A new study says that book readers live two years longer than their non-reading counterparts. As they explain it, “While most sedentary behaviors are well-established risk factors for mortality in older individuals, previous studies of a behavior that is often sedentary, reading… have not compared the health benefits of reading-material type.” Pair with this Millions essay on private libraries and what books reveal about their readers.
It's a big week for literary new releases. Chris Adrian's much anticipated new novel The Great Night is now out, as is Francine Prose's My New American Life. Also new this week are Roddy Doyle's latest collection of stories, Bullfighting, and the reissue of William Boyd's impish prank of a book, Nat Tate: An American Artist. Finally, past Booker shortlister Linda Grant has a new novel out called We Had It So Good.
How often do journalists unfairly stereotype the Rust Belt? All the time, says Jim Russell. In a piece for Pacific Standard, he argues that much of the reporting on Dayton, Flint and other industrial towns falls prey to hyperbole and generalization. (Related: Darryl Campbell on the recession and Rust Belt fiction.)
Translating is notoriously difficult work, and translating Proust even more so. The Boston Review has published a very thoughtful piece about the history of In Search of Lost Time in English, the trouble with annotations, and the general "tension in translation between the spirit and the letter." We highly recommend you take the time to read it, even if you don't have time for Proust just yet.
If you're looking for an occasionally evil but mostly hysterical month-long diversion, I recommend following HTMLGiant's "Tournament of Bookshit". So far one highlight has been: "excessively long list of credits including pushcart nominations in your bio vs. the guy who goes 20 minutes over the suggested reading time"