On this day 124 years ago Raymond Chandler, hardest of the hard-boiled, was born. To celebrate the father of Philip Marlowe see these letters Chandler wrote to some of his contemporaries, listen to Chandler’s interview with Ian Fleming, and enjoy a couple classic Chandlerisms. Most importantly, read “The Simple Art of Murder,” the greatest essay about the mystery novel ever written.
Lynn Shawcroft is comedian Mitch Hedberg’s widow, and she curates MitchHedberg.net. In a series of tweets this week, Shawcroft alluded to the possibility that she’ll be releasing Hedberg’s notebooks in the near future, perhaps as part of a book. Of course some excerpts from Hedberg’s notebooks are already available online, such as this fantastic sketch which explains the trouble with mingling before a comedy set.
“We might then see the bear, and judge it best to run, receive the insult and deem it right to strike, but we could not actually feel afraid or angry.” Let’s hope you never get approached by a bear while hiking in the woods with trailblazing psychologist William James, who had some complicated ideas about feelings.
New this week: Loitering by Charles d’Ambrosio; The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck; Windows on the World, a collection of Paris Review essays illustrated by Matteo Pericoli (Karl Ove Knausgaard’s contribution is excerpted here); The Heart Has Its Reasons by María Dueñas; A Woman Without a Country by Eavan Boland; Love Poems by Bertolt Brecht; and Family Furnishings, a new selection of short stories by Nobel laureate Alice Munro. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
“I’m a total database nerd. In college I worked as a troubleshooter for a database of medical research, trying to predict and prevent mistakes in the data entry process to avoid screwing up the records. Is anything more satisfying than a successfully written query delivering precisely the required results? It’s so much more direct than writing fiction. A query either works or it doesn’t.” Steve Himmer’s Nervous Breakdown self-interview.