“Maybe I [felt] a shift in responsibility when I had kids. I wanted the work I was doing, whatever it was, to be something that could be meaningful to them one day. That’s where the germ of the memoir came from. I thought that perhaps writing about my parents and where I came from would one day be helpful for my kids.” For Guernica, Christopher Kondrich interviews Tracy K. Smith about writing a memoir, the presence of David Bowie in her Life on Mars, and her reverence for the cosmic. Also check out Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light.
Just before he died earlier this year, Nobel winner Günter Grass completed his last manuscript, Vonne Endlichkait, “a literary experiment” that combines prose, poetry, and illustration. The book has just been published in German and will be available in English next year.
Roberto Bolaño's "Beach," the story that has been the source of the notion that the late author was a heroin addict (since debunked in a fairly convincing fashion) has been translated into English."Science Fiction Authors That Lit Geeks Think It's Cool To Read""Top 10 US out of print books of 2008" and the heartening news that three of the books on the list will be brought back into print in 2009: Once a Runner, A Lion Called Christian, and Comanche Heart.Google now has 7 million books scanned.Put this instant classic in your stocking and save it for next year: "A hearing into the case of Rudolph, a reindeer"
This week in beautiful books: Eugène Delacroix once illustrated Goethe’s Faust, and Goethe himself claimed the resulting lithographs "surpassed my own vision." A full version of the work is now available online. And in a slightly more light-hearted vein, English Russia has found and scanned a delightful Soviet version of The Hobbit, complete with a Gollum straight out of Dr. Seuss.
"There is always something lost, or exchanged, when the imagined world evoked by the written word, unique for every reader, is replaced by a provided set of visual references. In this particular case, the artist is faced with translating the unbelievable, even the metaphysical, into visual imagery, and within a relatively constrained form." Jenna Brager on Hope Larson's graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time.
Who invented ska music? John Jeremiah Sullivan traces the history of the genre in his latest essay for The Oxford American. "The more the claims for Rosco Gordon’s supremacy as a ska progenitor seem not out of proportion, and the less crazy it feels to say that, in a sense, ska was born in Tennessee." Pair with: Sullivan's essay on Bunny Wailer, who makes a cameo in his ska essay.