With the full trailer out for the upcoming James Bond release, Skyfall, I have to confess I’m totally obsessing over British spy stuff of late. Luckily there are some supplements to scratch that itch: Tina Rosenberg’s new story for The Atavist, D for Deception, about a real British spy writer who became a spy himself; Bee Wilson’s fascinating review of Ben MacIntyre’s outrageous but true investigation of WWII double agents, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies; Alexander Cockburn’s recap of the time George Orwell supplied “a list of the names of persons on the left who he deemed security risks” to the IRD; the story of Ernest Hemingway’s lousy espionage; and the video Her Royal Majesty’s recent skydiving escapade with 007.
It’s rare that Warren G. Harding gets much attention these days, which is why it’s all the more interesting that Sadie Stein’s father, when she was growing up, grew fascinated with the single-term president. At the Paris Review Daily, she recounts her family's visit to Harding's home.
Here's a piece of news you likely didn't see coming: David Duchovny has published a novel. Titled Holy Cow, it deals, in the words of interviewer Taffy Brodesser-Akner, with "a traumatized cow, a sassy turkey and a pig converting to Judaism." She talks with the X-Files star in this week's Times Magazine.
The New York Times recently asked Jennifer Szalai and Mohsin Hamid why there isn't a Great American Novel written by a woman? Both writers concluded that there is no such thing as the Great American Novel. "But if the idea of the Great American Novel is blinding us to exquisite fiction written by women, then perhaps its harm is exceeding its usefulness," Hamid wrote. We think that's a bit of a cop out. But a few women showed up on our list of the Greatest American Novels.
Over at Bookslut, Brian Nicholson follows up our recent piece on Silvina Ocampo’s Thus Were Their Faces with his own review of the book, writing that “She does not need to invent books of infinite pages, for the world of what we know already contains things as strange as mirrors.” The review draws a comparison between her work and that of Borges, her close friend.
In a head-scratching piece of writing for the New Statesman, Dave Eggers (whose novel The Circle just cracked our Top Ten) reflects on a cross-country drive he took from Jeddah to Riyadh. The journey, and in particular a comment made by his chauffeur, caused Eggers to ponder the significance of his nationality, his ability to perceive danger, and the intentions of others. The short of it: Some people from other countries are nice. Who knew?