Allan Gurganus commemorates the 100th anniversary of his teacher and friend John Cheever’s birth. “Cheever, now unfairly known as the gloomy, sodden satyr of suburbia,” Gurganus writes, “was at least rarely gloomy. Fact is he was more fun per minute than is legal in a nation this Republican.”
Recommended Listening: an interview with David Foster Wallace recorded the year Infinite Jest was published. Pair with these interviews and thoughts about what we mean when we talk about "rare" recordings.
"Macbeth has a twist that sets it apart from every other Shakespearean tragedy: Macbeth murders his voice. Mad with fear that Banquo’s heirs will seize the throne, Macbeth has Banquo killed. After that, our antihero is on his own. There is no one left to verify what is real and what is not ... When Macbeth’s voice dies, everything else disappears, too. Macbeth is alone." This excerpt from Jillian Keenan's Sex With Shakespeare touches on everything from sexuality in Singapore to The O.C. fan-fiction.
New this week is Jonathan Evison's West of Here, Joyce Carol Oates' memoir A Widow's Story about the death of her husband (this was the source of her recent, quite moving essay in the New Yorker), and the expanded rerelease of Alexander Theroux's The Strange Case of Edward Gorey. Also new on shelves from NYRB Classics is Irretrievable by Theodor Fontane, with an introduction by Phillip Lopate, who discussed Fontane in our Year in Reading in December.
It’s safe to say that Jorge Louis Borges could have lectured on anything from watching paint dry to waiting in line at the DMV and the end result would still have been magnificent. Here he is teaching a little Buddhism 101, with an accompanying lecture by his close friend and UC-Berkeley professor Amelia Barili.
Alice Munro announced her retirement from writing this week. “Perhaps, when you’re my age,” she told a National Post reporter, “you don’t wish to be alone as much as a writer has to be.” Previously the Canadian author announced her retirement in 2006, but that didn’t stop her from publishing two more books – including her latest story collection, Dear Life (Millions review). The uninitiated can get a primer on her entire oeuvre by checking out our comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Alice Munro. See also: “Can Writers Retire? Let Us Count the Ways”