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.
“On the other hand, I do spend endless hours mulling over the mystery of what others like. Again and again the question arises: How can they?” Tim Parks asks us why we enjoy reading what we read at The New York Review of Books. For Millions readers’ favorites, check out October’s Top 10.
Teju Cole’s Every Day Is for the Thief is out this week, as is Karen Russell’s e-book novella Sleep Donation. Also out: The Brunist Day of Wrath by Robert Coover; Falling Out of Time by David Grossman; Bad Teeth by Dustin Long; The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson; and The Space Between Us by Zoya Pirzad.
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.)
It's hard to resist reading others' diary entries, especially when the diaries in question belong to famous writers. Now that a selection of Jack Kerouac's journals is being released from The New Yorker archives and made available online, resistance is more or less futile. Originally published in 1998, these journal entries span the years from 1948 to 1950, from just after the long drive that inspired On the Road to the publication of Kerouac's first book, The Town and the City.
Got any big social engagements coming up on your calendar? Want to make a splash? Well here’s just the thing: memorize a whole heap of the words assembled in Douglas Adams and John Lloyd’s The Meaning of Liff, which has been entirely digitized thanks to some kind souls. Then try to work them into as many conversations as you can. (h/t The Harlequin)
"My mum is Jerry Hall and my father's Mick Jagger. People say I have great genes," says the youngest of Mick Jagger's children, Georgia May Jagger, in a new Hudson Jeans television ad. See the jeans and genes of this "neo-Bardot" at The Daily Beast.