David Risher founded the nonprofit Worldreader program in 2009 to distribute Kindles to children in the developing world. His aim was to increase literacy. Today the program has shared over 200,000 e-books with children in Ghana and Kenya, and Risher and his colleagues hope to allocate 10,000 reading devices by 2013.
As a poet, historian, critic, translator and editor of The New Republic, Malcolm Cowley was a genuine literary polymath, which is why it’s not surprising that he wrote eloquent letters. In one, for example, he described Larry McMurtry, who Cowley taught when McMurtry was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, as a “wild young man from Texas, expert in pornography.” In the Times, Dwight Garner reviews The Long Voyage, a new collection of Cowley’s letters.
The Naipaul Question, as Morgan Meis calls it, is simple: is V.S. Naipaul too offensive to be taken seriously? His recent biography includes scenes of abuse and moments of straightforward racism. But Meis thinks the issue is more complicated than whether Naipaul is a monster -- the author is, in his phrasing, too “protean” to be pinned down.
"As for the charge that [Constance] Garnett writes in an outdated language, yes, here and there she uses words and phrases that no one uses today, but not many of them. We find the same sprinkling of outdated words and phrases in the novels of Trollope and Dickens and George Eliot. Should they, too, be rewritten for modern sensibilities? (Would u really want that?)" It's shaping up to be a day of passionate defenses. Writing for the New York Review of Books, Janet Malcom urges readers to put down their Pevear/Volokhonsky translations of Russian classics and pick Constance Garnett's back up again.
What is the greatest crime in literary history? Depending on who you ask, it was probably the burning of Byron's memoirs. Shortly after his death, three of Byron's closest friends, along with a few attorneys representing family interests, decided that the memoirs were too scandalous to publish and thus tossed them bit by bit into a fireplace. They claim to have been acting in his best interest, and, as Byron himself said, "There is no instinct like that of the heart."
As if demonstrating exemplary literary skill weren't enough, some overachieving authors were accomplished visual artists as well, notes AbeBooks in a roundup of talent that includes e e cummings, Günter Grass, Herman Hesse, and Jack Kerouac. Consider also our own Bill Morris on artists who channel writers in their own aesthetics.