Jonathan Raban intersperses biographical information about William Gaddis in order to give the correspondence collected in his recently published Letters greater context. There are ample details about the author’s travels in his young adulthood, his artistic frustrations over the publication of The Recognitions, and, of course, many details about the women in Gaddis’s life. “In letters to his mother,” Raban writes, “Gaddis liked to depict himself as someone repeatedly smitten by beautiful women.” (Bonus: “The Letters of William Gaddis contains five letters addressed to me.”
“One reason presidents are drawn to the genre is surely its escapism — its promise to replace impossible decisions with comforting formulas.” For The New York Times, Craig Fehrman writes about United States presidents who have a predilection for mystery novels. If you need your mystery fix too, we have a list with five crime books with female detectives.
“When it started almost 15 years ago, [Google Books] … seemed impossibly ambitious,” writes Scott Rosenberg. “An upstart tech company that had just tamed and organized the vast informational jungle of the web would now extend the reach of its search box into the offline world.” But these days, Google’s moonshot has turned into a “mundane reality.” How?
The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder “what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”