Bill Keller discusses John Borling’s Taps On The Walls, a collection of poems “tapped out in code, letter by letter, on the walls of a wretched cell in Hanoi during his 6 1/2 years as a prisoner of war.”
Google has launched a new search filter to its “advanced search page” that allows people to sort content based on reading level — basic, intermediate, or advanced. Google thinks The Millions lands in the middle. Search your website using the feature to see how Google rates it. (Disclaimer: we can’t see any rhyme or reason to their ratings.) (Update for you visitors from Gawker: If this Google business bores you – and lets be honest, it’s not that exciting – stick around and check out our much more scintillating Year in Reading series, featuring Margaret Atwood, John Banville, Sam Lipsyte and all manner of literary luminaries.)
American music lost one of its best songwriters with the passing of Jason Molina last March. Molina was known for his work with Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. As a tribute this week on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and as a way of spreading awareness for a May 11 concert in Molina’s memory, Band of Horses covered one of the late musician’s songs, “I’ve Been Riding With the Ghost.” (Original.)
Out this week: The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin; Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler; The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson; This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets; Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe; and Smoke by Dan Vyleta. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
Yea, yea, it’s Charles Dickens’ birthday. I’m sure you’ve heard, or at least been told by Google. But he’s only one artist born on this day. In addition, there’s James Yancey aka J Dilla, one of the most influential hip hop artists and producers of all time.
Those of you with some knowledge of Pale Fire and Lolita won’t be surprised to learn what Nabokov thought of dinner parties. Namely, he thought they were awful, vaguely surreal events, held largely by drunkards with overriding appetites for drama. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein quotes a passage from “The Vane Sisters” to explain why “It’s hard to think of someone you’d want less at a midcentury faculty tea, save maybe a seething Shirley Jackson.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
Expats of all stripes have trouble defining the word “home,” which is true even when the expat is someone like James Wood, who left England for America in the ‘90s and set up a life for himself in Massachusetts. In the LRB, he describes the odd pain of emigration, lamenting that his “English reality” has faded into memory. (You could also read Charles Finch on trying to live up to Wood’s standards.)