Matt Seidel has a helpful guide for book clubs across the country: How To Tell If Someone In Your Book Club Is a Homicidal Maniac. One possible clue? He contributes to the Water for Elephants discussion by “telling anecdotes about torturing animals as a child.”
Perhaps inspired by the similarly-named astronomer, Freeman Dyson wrote an entry for the NYT’s By the Book series, in which he praises Edward Wilson, Kristin Ghodsee, Robert Kanigel and Octavia Butler, the last of whom he dubs his favorite novelist of all time. Sample quote: “The Magic City can be read on two levels, as a children’s adventure story and as a critique of modern society. Karl Marx was a friend of [Edith] Nesbit’s family.”
Are you embarrassed about your lack of literary inheritance? You're not alone. Here's a great piece by Annie Liontas at The New York Times on those first, lonely forays into the literary world: "But I see my experience as an immigrant into the world of letters as a blessing. Being an outsider is the origin of my imagination; it gives me the constant consciousness that my perspective is only one of many and that there are myriad ways of being in the world. It grants me the gift of being attuned to the voices in the room, as well as all of those shut out of it."
“In Proust, the rhythm, the phrasing, the movement of the sentence, even the grammar—it’s all so complex that it would be almost impossible to repeat anyone else’s work. Because of that I’m all the more aware of the differences, and of how admirable Scott Moncrieff’s work often is.” George Plimpton interviews Richard Howard about translating Remembrance of Things Past, for the Summer 1989 issue of The Paris Review. The interview was reissued to mark Richard Howard's birthday, who turns eighty-six today.