Sir Frank Kermode, widely acclaimed as Britain’s foremost literary critic, died yesterday in Cambridge at the age of 90. Guardian recalls highlights of his eminent career, including inspiring the founding of The London Review of Books, publishing books ranging from works on Spenser and Donne to last year’s Concerning EM Forster, and being an acclaimed reviewer: Philip Roth admitted that although he dislikes reading reviews, “if Frank Kermode reviewed my book I would read it.”
“Baker is such a wonderful prose stylist that he could probably get away with publishing his diary—which, for epic stretches, is what Substitute feels like.” Over at The Nation, Evan Kindley reviews Nicholson Baker‘s latest, a 700-plus-page non-fiction exploration of substitute teaching. Spoiler: it’s not as sexy as Baker’s other work. If it’s the sex you want, see our primer on Baker’s novels; also immensely entertaining, our interview with the author from 2013.
During the production of his classic film, Man of Aran, Robert Flaherty also directed an 11-minute short entitled Oidhche Sheanchais (“A Night of Storytelling”). It’s widely considered to be the first film recorded in the Irish language. For years, all extant copies were believed to be lost in a fire, but recently, researchers at Harvard’s Houghton Library rediscovered a nitrate print of the film.
Speaking of France: whether or not you find him disagreeable, Michel Houellebecq is pretty much guaranteed to elicit an emotional response from readers. His new opinion piece in The New York Times is no different. Here’s a review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory that refers to him as a “petty misanthrope.”