“One hears, in the news, that one new fad after another is sweeping the academy. World literature, digital humanities, book history, cognitive science. Perhaps everyone will just watch TV (there are twenty-seven panels on The Wire, and at least a paper, I recall, on Rizzoli and Isles, a TNT show)…The elephant in the room, or the one that has left the room a while ago (but whose stinking presence everyone still inhales deeply or holds their nose after), is Theory.” N + 1 reviews MLA 2013.
“Renowned author Dan Brown got out of his luxurious four-poster bed in his expensive $10 million house and paced the bedroom, using the feet located at the ends of his two legs to propel him forwards.”
“Our culture claims to celebrate vigor and well-being, yet holds up steroid-addled men and impossibly thin women as models of physical perfection. Those of us unwilling to juice or starve ourselves are left feeling inadequate and confused about why we do not bear any resemblance to the humans we are meant to emulate.” Michael Ian Black reviews two books about the male physique — and reveals a bit about the unrealistic nature of our cultural expectations.
The Tournament of Books team over at The Morning News have posted an in depth commentary on this year’s withheld Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The Wall Street Journal asks a handful of book critics to name the books they thought should’ve won. And over at Moby Lives, Nick Davies has rounded up the statements made by the jury in response to the brouhaha. Lev Grossman, on the other hand, outlines why he’s totally okay with the board’s decision. And of course, we’ve got links and excerpts for all the finalists over here.
“Chris Lloyd adores a minuet / the Ballets Russes and crepes suzettes / but Foucault loves to rock n’ roll / a hot dog makes him lose control… what a crazy pair!”James Yeh and a plate of Korean barbecue co-star in: My Dinner with Shteyngart.Deborah Eisenberg reads Wells Tower.Open Letters Monthly looks at Landscape in Concrete, a lost classic from the World War II-era featuring a not-so-ÜbermenschWhat planet are translators from? Paul Verhaeghen spills the beans, in remarks from the PEN festival, (via Three percent)Novelist David Francis, guest-posting at TEV, pits the writer’s interests against those of the publishing industry.W.W. Norton “friends” the Dalkey Archive.Richard Ford tells Nam Le, “Giving a colleague a bad review is like . . . seeing a hitchhiker and rather than picking the hitchhiker up, you run over him.”The Second Pass reappraises Denis Johnson’s 1983 Angels (whose characters reappear in Tree of Smoke).Finally, a piece on Reif Larsen’s T.S. Spivet that doesn’t mention the size of his advance.After only a year, Wyatt Mason’s fine Sentences blog reaches a full stop.An amazing and cute fashion blog from a 13-year-old.The indie bookstore tour writ large: novelist Mark Fitten is visiting 100 indie bookstores and writing about it. (via Maud)Wikipedia find of the week: The Jimmy Carter rabbit incident
Julia Child fans may enjoy a new collection of her correspondence with her friend and “unofficial literary agent” Avis DeVoto. The letters follow Child through her life overseas. Also out now is a snazzy new Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray with a cover illustrated by Ruben Toledo.