Here’s a video of Bill Murray reading two poems by Wallace Stevens. (As if you needed further evidence that Murray is a national treasure.)
“An ideal essay is hard to define, but easy to point to. An ideal essay mines the “I” in efforts of high exposition. It is driven by a need to testify or witness, and demands the same of its reader. It is a glimpse of something uncomfortably recognizable, a requiem for the quotidian, a look over the newly-gilded edge.” Samantha Tucker Iacovetto writes about “Defining the Ideal Essay” for Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog
Implicit in a lot of the discussions about how negative a book reviewer can be is a question of utility: is a book review an act of public service or a work of art in itself? In the Times, James Parker and Anna Holmes debate the purpose of the review. Sample quote: “I’d argue that a majority of the reading public doesn’t necessarily benefit from the sorts of reviews for which artistry is the point.” You could also read our own Matt Seidel’s hypothetical worst review ever.
Chemikal Underground, the Glasgow label that first launched Mogwai and Arab Strap, steps into the literary realm with its first audio collection of stories, The Year of Open Doors. You can listen to an excerpt–Arab Strap’s own Aidan Moffat reads his story “The Donaldson Boy.”
Emily Smith discusses the place of zines in contemporary American politics, over at Ploughshares. As she puts it, “Zines, like street art, are allowed critical power through anonymity—a function newsstand periodicals simply can’t perform for the sake of reputation or the sacrifice of advertisers. In this way, zines are small-scale democracies.”
Out this week: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid; South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion; All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg; Ill Will by Dan Chaon; The Accusation by Bandi; The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge; and American Berserk by our own Bill Morris. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Philip Roth may have retired, but that doesn’t mean he’s done giving interviews. The author recently sat down with the editor of a Swedish newspaper, who talked with him about misogyny, Sabbath’s Theater and the need for “obstinacy” in a writer. (Related: our own Hannah Gersen reviewed Roth Unbound.) (h/t The Paris Review)