Laura Miller discusses what she didn’t read this year.
It’s not easy being a seagull. Over at the London Review of Books, Mary Wellesley takes a sympathetic look at how the much-maligned bird has been treated throughout the history of literature. Afterwards, let this essay from The Millions by Kristen Scharold on the joys of birdwatching lift your spirits a bit.
“They might underline a page number, draw a little star on the last page, or write their first initial somewhere in the book.” A librarian in Scotland discovered a secret code used by elderly patrons to track which books they already read. From our archives: an essay on the importance of libraries and how they can stay relevant.
The University of Texas at Austin has recently acquired Kazuo Ishiguro’s archive. The collection reveals early drafts, a pulp Western novel that Ishiguro thought had been lost, and his early attempts at songwriting. “For many years,” he said, “I’ve been in the habit of keeping a large cardboard box under my desk into which I throw, more or less indiscriminately, all papers produced during my writing that I don’t want to file neatly and take into the next stage of composition: earlier drafts of chapters, rejected pages, scraps of paper with scribbled thoughts, repeated attempts at the same paragraph, etc.”
This will either make or ruin your Tuesday: a clip of Orson Welles, in 1974, reminiscing about his relationship with Hemingway. As Sadie Stein writes, “it has everything: titanic ego-clashing, disingenuous concern-trolling, bullfighting, damning with faint praise, posthumous character assassination.” You could also read Jessica Roake on Peter Biskind’s My Lunches with Orson.
“My daughter spent some of this summer performing a dance, which she learned at summer camp, to a certain song by Shakira, called “Waka Waka.” It was earnest, funny, beautiful dance; however, I am, it seems, unable to watch my daughter perform her Shakira dance, to a song I don’t very much care for, without sobbing. There is no explanation for this excessive reaction—the dance is homely and human and not at all out of this world—but that the reaction is about beauty, and joy, and potential, and not sorrow. And this, it seems, is one aspect of what crying celebrates: the sublime.” Here is Rick Moody, life coach, from The Literary Hub. Here’s a recent Millions interview with Moody.