“Others may prefer to will themselves into James Bond’s dinner jacket and Aston Martin DB4, but I’d rather slip into a !Kung hunter’s penis sheath and heft his hunting spear.” At The Guardian, Will Self explores his odd preference for deeply uncomfortable comfort reading.
Recent Year in Reading alum Rebecca Makkai writes about the difference between publishing your first book and your second book for Ploughshares. Let’s just say it’s the difference between champagne and “all the whiskey.” Pair with Zhanna Slor‘s Millions interview with Makkai in which they discuss that second book, The Hundred-Year House.
The Rake takes note of the New Yorker’s particularly dark reading of Goodnight Moon.Iain Hollingshead gamely responds to being awarded the “Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award” for his debut novel Twentysomething, which included such turns of phrase as “everything is pure white as we’re lost in a commotion of grunts and squeaks.”With a few celebs getting in trouble for racist outbursts this year Malcolm Gladwell (ever thoughtful) comes up with a way to figure out who’s really being offensive and who’s just dumb.Maud points to a new blog from one of my favorite publishers, NYRB Press.Dozens of year end-lists floating around here and elsewhere, but I always take special note of Jonathan Yardley’s year-end column because it is always thoughtful and sometimes surprising.To do (as soon as I have the time): listen to the Bat Segundo Show that features Edward P. Jones.
In a piece reminiscent of Talk of the Nation’s “You Can’t Possibly Read It All, So Stop Trying” episode, A D Jameson tracks every film he’s watched over a fifteen year span, and then discusses the data for HTMLGiant. Choice line (which could easily apply to literature, too): “The more you watch from the present day, the more garbage you’re bound to see—but your conclusions will be your own. Conversely, the further back you go, the more you’ll be guided by the opinions of others. (If nothing else, what’s available will be largely determined by what’s remained popular.)”
Out this week: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman; There’s Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter; Bon Appétempt by Amelia Morris; The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah; The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson; The Marauders by Tom Cooper; We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler; A History of Loneliness by John Boyne; Holy Cow by The X-Files star David Duchovny; and Get in Trouble by Kelly Link. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
Hitchens looks back at the Rushdie fatwa and its legacy of censorship.The Feltron 2008 Annual Report“The Governor and the Glove” – an encounter with BlagojovichJoseph O’Neill remembers Updike (via TEV)Ted Leo performs Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.”The Paleolithic era of online news.TNR reviews Outliers: “It is an axiom of Malcolm Gladwell’s method that a perfect anecdote proves a fatuous rule.“
Diane Keaton writes in her upcoming memoir, Then Again, that “Going out with Woody Allen was like being in a Woody Allen movie.”
Edmund White considers writers’ obsession with New York City in the 1970s, with photography by Peter Hujar. As White puts it, that was “a place and a time in which, rich or poor, you were stuck together in the misery (and the freedom) of the place, where not even money could insulate you.”