If you read my Year In Reading, and if you’re a really impulsive person, you probably already subscribed to The Virginia Quarterly Review. However if you needed more than just my testimonial in order to open up your wallet, perhaps their official list of “The Best Writing in VQR in 2012” will sway you.
Recommended Reading: Jenny Diski on our lost words. “So I had a thought about writing a book for the elderly, the old. Those who have lost their words more comprehensively than the friends around our lunch table, but haven’t lost themselves entirely. A book about where all the words go, where after a time they find the others and collaborate to make sentences.”
Another big week for books is headlined by Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue (the book’s opening lines) and Junot Díaz’s This Is How You Lose Her. Also out are Susan Straight’s Between Heaven and Here, touted debuts The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu and The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, How Music Works by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, and Bob Woodward’s latest Beltway tick-tock The Price of Politics.
Here’s some rare footage of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera hanging out with Leon Trotsky and Natalia Sedova in 1938. Here’s an awesome quote from Kahlo: “I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.” And finally, here’s a picture of Frida that’s even more awesome than both of those things.
Before adopting the relatively unimaginative (and highly debatable) moniker “The Greatest City in America,” Baltimore, MD was for a time known as “The City That Reads.” In an essay for Poets & Writers, Jen Michalski explains how the city’s bookish reputation endures despite the motto change.
In August of 1911, Franz Kafka and his future literary executor Max Brod paid a visit to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. It was, all told, a weird time to make such a trip, because a week before the two arrived in Paris, crafty thieves abducted the famous painting. So why did they go if there wasn’t a painting to see? To look at the absence, of course. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)