Gore Vidal has died at the age of 86. The prominent author, screenwriter, Norman Mailer-nemesis and political activist published 25 novels, two memoirs and many, many essay volumes in addition to plays, screenplays, and television scripts. For a time, he even loaned his own visage to the silver screen, as Mindy Hung recently pointed out on our site.
As some of you may have heard, a handful of pioneering companies are trying to use flying robots in place of cars for deliveries. In the Bay Area, the geniuses behind Tacocopter are blazing a new path for restaurants, while in France, the postal service in Auvergne is working on a system for newspapers. (Fingers crossed that somebody will try this with lit mags.)
Reading War and Peace was always a challenge, but how much harder is it in an age of constant distraction? At Salon, Mike Harris, a self-confessed distraction addict, writes about his experience tackling the Russian classic. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on the book’s effect on perception.
“I didn’t really understand what reading was for. If I wanted a story, the thing to do was to get my grandmother to read it to me. Then listening to her voice, her story-reading voice which always sounded a little incredulous, marvelling, yet full of faith, bravely insistent, and watching her face, its meaningful and utterly familiar expressions—lifted eyebrows, ominously sinking chin, brisk little nods of agreement when, as sometimes happened, a character said something sensible—then I would feel the story grow into life and exist by itself, so that it hardly seemed to me that she was reading it out of a book at all; it was something she had created herself, out of thin air… But one summer I had the whooping-cough, and afterwards I could not go swimming or jump off the beams in the barn or boss my little brother, because by that time he had the whooping-cough himself. My grandmother was off somewhere, visiting other cousins. So I swung on my swing until I got dizzy, and then for no reason in particular I took the Child’s History out of the bookcase in the front room, and sat down on the floor and started to read.” Alice Munro writes about A Child’s History of England, the first book she ever read.
“There are writers we instinctively, permanently dislike: not only will we never read them, we will quietly relish the not-reading, finding in it a pleasure that can occasionally rival reading itself.” Dan Piepenbring explores the advantages of not reading for the The Paris Review. Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s essay on the art of not finishing books.