“After scanning across this listing while doing cursory research for something else, I instantly became obsessed with the idea of the zebra skin in the library. What, exactly, did it look like? How was it stored amongst his papers? Why had he owned it? What was it doing in the special collections of an academic library?” On looking through the archives of William Gaddis.
Over thirteen years, John Berryman wrote his famous Dream Songs, composing his most innovative and well-known poetry while his own life began to unravel. In a piece for the LRB, August Kleinzahler reappraises the poet to mark a raft of new editions of his work, citing Randall Jarrell, Saul Bellow and other contemporaries in the process. Pair with Stephen Akey on The Dream Songs.
“The fact that Harry Potter midnight release parties were the event to go to as a teen was completely unprecedented in geek culture. You can draw a dotted line to the mainstreaming of geek culture through Harry Potter.” Twenty years after the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Huffington Post asks authors, editors, and publishers how Rowling’s juggernaut changed reading and the world of Young Adult fiction. Then see this counterpoint from our own pages last year: There Is No Such Thing as the Young Adult Novel.
“I’ve never actually read the books that I’ve blurbed.” – Nick Tosches in BookforumThat terrific Kenneth Tynan piece on Johnny Carson that Tingle was looking for.Want to bone up on philosophy, but can’t quite find the time? Try Squashed Philosophers.The CS Monitor gives capsule reviews of the NBCC fiction finalists, in case you didn’t get to any of them.O, Brother, Where Art Thou? Oh Right, Everywhere: Discarded titles for George Orwell’s 1984 at McSweeney’s (via Kottke).David Sedaris’ recommended reading list
“Facing the daily avalanche of stories about outrageous corruption, writing about timely political issues can often feel pointless. It can be easy to lose faith in the creative process.” For LitHub, an essay by Tom McAllister on writing about politically-charged traumas with humanity and his new novel, How to Be Safe. Pair with: our 2010 interview with McAllister.
“If I could paint or compose music, I would want to finally arrive at what I felt was beauty for me and for others. I would trust that if I could make something that was beautiful, it would also be true, the way Charlie Parker is true or a Shostakovich cello concerto is true, and I feel the same way about writing. I try to make something beautiful out of language.” Fogged Clarity interviews Stuart Dybek about the writing process and Ecstatic Cahoots, which we mentioned in our 2014 Book Preview.
Recommended Viewing: Toni Morrison spoke with Junot Díaz at the New York Public Library last week, and the organizers were good enough to record the entire conversation and put it online. The talk begins at the 40:09 mark, so you can either fast forward or click this link right here.