In the Paris of the late 19th century, the courtesan was “an essential part of the pecking order,” writes Heather Hartley at the Tin House blog.
In most portrayals of Cold War espionage, both Communist and capitalist spies appear wedded to their respective ideologies. Yet real spies, as the FBI knows, often have more nebulous motivations. In the Times Book Review, Ben MacIntyre reads the latest by Ha Jin, which centers on a Chinese spy embedded in suburban Virginia.
Is readability a myth? In an article for The Atlantic Noah Berlatsky argues that there are no “easy” or “difficult” books, or rather that these are relative terms – a book that gives one person fits may be light reading for someone else. His argument pairs interestingly with our own Emily Colette Wilkinson‘s “Difficult Books” series.
Victor Hugo, when asked about the other parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy that aren’t the widely-read Inferno, had this to say: “The human eye was not made to look upon so much light, and when the poem becomes happy, it becomes boring.” Ouch. Is this why so many of us haven’t even read Dante, despite his being a kind of cultural icon?
After more than sixty years, Antonio di Benedetto has had his book Zama finally translated into English. The novel, which kicks off in the 1790s, depicts a Spanish administrator named Don Diego de Zama, whose viceroy dispatches him to a town in the scrublands of Paraguay. In the latest New Yorker, Benjamin Kunkel gives his take.
Trend alert: there’s been a surprising proliferation of literary site spinoffs lately. First The Toast began The Butter, and then Electric Literature started Okey-Panky. Now the Los Angeles Review of Books joins the movement with The Offing, an online lit mag launching later this month.
Getting a director for Stephen King’s The Stand was almost as difficult as surviving the virus. The latest director to try is Josh Boone, who is no stranger to adaptations because he’s bringing The Fault in Our Stars to screen. To brush up on your King, read our essay on learning about America through his novels.