“Utter devotion to the principle that distraction is Satan and writing is paramount can be just as poisonous as an excess of diversion,” writes Benjamin Nugent.
We recently offered a look at the odd history of the book blurb here at The Millions. Now the New York Times is looking at this peculiar custom, inviting four contributors to discuss their merits and pitfalls. Among them is our own Bill Morris, who revisits his 2011 essay “To Blurb Or Not To Blurb” about the dilemma he faced when asked to blurb a friend’s book.
Look, we get it. You’re as sad as the rest of us that Frank Ocean’s new album didn’t actually drop on Friday. Luckily, there’s a fantastic essay over at The Atlantic which examines Ocean in the context of Harper Lee and the myth of the reclusive artist: “Channel Orange, like Mockingbird, is an unapologetic masterpiece for people defining themselves at the intersection of lived experience and possibility.”
Happy Freedom Day: The work at the center of all the reviews, magazine covers, and even, of course, controversy, has arrived. Jonathan Franzen’s long-awaited novel Freedom hits shelves today. Our review. Also out today is Booker longlister Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. Another newly translated Roberto Bolaño is out, The Insufferable Gaucho. As is You Were Wrong by Jamestown author Matthew Sharpe. Finally, fashion fans will dig vintage Japanese prepster handbook Take Ivy.
Spotted on the streets of New York: a casting call for a “10-13 year old Caucasian male” to play protagonist Oskar Schell in Stephen Daldry‘s upcoming film adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer‘s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Notable Goyim Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are attached to the project, as Oskar’s parents.
L.A.-based readers won’t want to miss this weekend’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, held this year on the USC campus. Millions staff writer Patrick Brown will be moderating a panel discussion about bookselling, “From the Front Register,” on Saturday at 12:30 pm. At 2:30 that same day, I’ll be on a panel facilitated by Lizzie Skurnick called “Fiction: The Long and Short of It.” My fellow panelists are Yiyun Li and occasional Millions contributor Victoria Patterson. Go here for details and to order panel tickets (just $1 each)!