Over at The Atlantic Wire, Jen Doll catalogues the many words first coined by Geoffrey Chaucer, which includes such everyday staples as “dotard,” “fattish,” “caterwaul” and “twitter.”
"We are not buried in history, but surrounded by it. You can’t avoid our behavior being shaped by it, to a considerable degree. We have this fantasy that we are free of history. This allows us not to see the circumstances, the historical circumstances of other people." The Rumpus interviews Russell Banks about his new book Voyager: Travel Writings.
"Nothing in Born to Run rings to me as unmeant or punch-pulling. If anything, Springsteen wants credit for telling it the way it really is and was. And like a fabled Springsteen concert — always notable for its deck-clearing thoroughness — Born to Run achieves the sensation that all the relevant questions have been answered by the time the lights are turned out." Richard Ford reviews The Boss's new book for the New York Times.
"Our culture has focused so much attention on the most visible members of the Black Panthers that it has been easy to forget it was a nationwide organization -- an entity that needed to attract ordinary people who believed in something and were also willing to work for it." In the Times, Rembert Browne reviews two new books about the Black Power movement.
If I had been near enough to a computer and had enough time to blog over the last month, I probably would have talked about Nicholson Baker's new book, Checkpoint. I haven't read it, so I can only comment on the reactions that I have seen to the book. Most have been negative. The book is about two friends who are sitting in a hotel room having a conversation. One character wants to assassinate President George W. Bush, the other is trying to talk him out of it. The subject matter alone seems to come from a desire to create controversy, and though Baker and his publisher have gone out of their way to condemn violence, Baker has said that he was motivated by his own personal anger to write the book. If you ask me, controversial subject matter + short book (115 pages in this case) + rush to press = literary publicity stunt, and many, including the New York Times agree.Readers of fiction looking for a weekly dose and writers of fiction looking for an audience should check out Weekly Reader, a little website that delivers a story to your inbox every week.Poaching two great links from Arts & Letters Daily: Jonathan Yardley loves Hunter S. Thompson's new collection of pieces from ESPN.com's page 2, Hey Rube; and Tibor Fischer discusses the current slate of Booker hopefuls.