You’ve heard about grade inflation, but universities are now dealing with academic job reference inflation, a slightly more adult kind of problem.
A new issue of The Quarterly Conversation has arrived, featuring an essay on Wizard of the Crow by QC creator Scott and a review of William T. Vollmann’s Poor People from Dave Munger. Lots of other good reviews in there too.Also via Scott, Political Theory Daily Review, a dense and daily collection of linksIn a Newsweek sidebar accompanying an excerpt of his book The American Religion, Harold Bloom names his “five most important books.” The most recent one to appear on the list? A tie, more or less, between Don Quixote and the complete works of Shakespeare. Bloom was also asked to admit to an important book he hadn’t read. His answer: “I cannot think of a major work I have not ingested.” That’s a lot of pages to store in one’s belly. (via Stephen)Good week for Mark Sarvas, first he announces that he’s sold his novel and now he’s off on his honeymoon. Filling in at TEV is Joshua Ferris, author of the much praised Then We Came to the End.And finally, a Baltimore Sun review had me intrigued by a new squirm-inducing non-fiction book by a former crime scene investigator for the Baltimore County police. Dana Kollmann’s book Never Suck a Dead Man’s Hand: Curious Adventures of a CSI gives a real-life look at a profession recently glamorized by TV show “CSI” and its many offshoots. Krall, however, describes a job both more boring and more odious than the one described on TV, but she does so with “dark humor,” which I’d imagine the job requires. The book’s title, for example, “comes from a story that involves a dead man, his hand and her attempts to get fingerprints on a freezing cold day.” Yikes.
New this week: The Circle by Dave Eggers; Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III; How to Read a Novelist by former Granta editor John Freeman; Solo, a new James Bond novel by William Boyd; and “the first in-depth overview of Wes Anderson’s filmography” by the New York Magazine TV critic Matt Zoller-Seitz.
On his podcast, David Naimon spoke with poet Morgan Parker about her new collection, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé. It’s a book “at the intersections of mythology and sorrow, of vulnerability and posturing, of desire and disgust, of tragedy and excellence,” Naimon says. (Bonus: Parker’s book was recently featured in Nick Ripatrazone’s list of five poetry collections you should buy.)
If you’re struggling with your writing, turn to biographies of famous authors. This is Tom Perrotta’s cure for writer’s block. “It’s inspiring to read about a flawed human being who struggled with his or her demons and afflictions, experienced paralyzing episodes of failure or self-doubt, but somehow managed to do the work anyway, and produce something that enriched the world. That’s my version of self-help,” he said in a New York Times “By the Book” interview.