If you find yourself in a sporting mood, you can place a bet on who will win the Nobel Prize for Literature. I personally like Alice Munro’s 20/1 odds for taking the award, though Haruki Murakami’s 10/1 make him the safer bet.
“The most, the best, we can do, we believe (wanting to give evidence of love), is to get out of the way, leave space around whomever or whatever it is.” This excerpt from John Cage’s journals, forthcoming as Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse), is as baffling as it is beautiful.
Tim Parks investigates the idea of “writing to death” in the cases of Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, Anton Chekhov, Charles Dickens and William Faulkner. “So many of the writers I have looked at seem permanently torn between irreconcilable positions,” Parks writes. “Eventually, the dilemma driving the work either leads to death, or is neutralized in a way that prolongs life but dulls the writing” (Bonus: Our own Mark O’Connell just reviewed Parks’s latest book, Italian Ways.)
"I couldn’t put the books down. Now that so many of us complain of diminished attention spans— our own as well as our companions’—it’s worth asking what has made millions of readers willing to suspend their disbelief—to suspend their selves—for thousands of pages." Why have so many people gone gaga for Ferrante and Knausgaard? We have our own theories as well.