“If culture is purely entertainment, nothing is of importance. If it’s a matter of amusement, an impostor can undoubtedly amuse me more than a profoundly authentic person. But if culture signifies more than this, then it’s worrying.” Sociologist Gilles Lipovetsky interviews the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa about the contemporary collapse between “high” and “low” cultures.
Ever got the feeling that literary life used to be a lot more glamorous? Well, thanks to this review, we now have some proof that it was. In The Times Literary Supplement, a review of Antonia Fraser’s new memoir, which includes her memories of meeting the Queen and dancing with T.S. Eliot. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
"America has always been built—and continues to be built—by those the establishment keeps invisible." Public Books runs the sixth installment of its "An Engineer Reads a Novel" series, this time taking on Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad and John Henry Days. We also recently reviewed the former, which has been blessed by both Oprah Winfrey and President Obama.
Steve Almond at The Rumpus provides a “meditation on editors, ambition, and angry dependence” in reaction to the media's coverage of the suicide of Kevin Morrissey, managing editor of The Virginia Quarterly Review.
The Guardian reports that Kinokuniya, a Japanese book chain, has bought 90 percent of the print run of Haruki Murakami’s latest essay collection, Novelist As a Vocation, to be released September 10th in Japan. The company hopes to bring more customers back into bookstores. Need more Murakami? Read our review of The Strange Library.
It's hard to resist reading others' diary entries, especially when the diaries in question belong to famous writers. Now that a selection of Jack Kerouac's journals is being released from The New Yorker archives and made available online, resistance is more or less futile. Originally published in 1998, these journal entries span the years from 1948 to 1950, from just after the long drive that inspired On the Road to the publication of Kerouac's first book, The Town and the City.
Tomorrow (January 18th), sites like Wikipedia and Reddit will go dark to protest SOPA. Anyone who's been online over the past few weeks probably has a vague sense of why this proposed legislation is bad news for the internet as we know it, but Reddit has put up a blog post delving into the language and illustrating the frankly alarming ramifications of its passage.