Sean Manning (of Talking Covers) hosted a discussion with Jonathan Lethem last week at LA’s Last Bookstore. You can check out video and audio of the event over here, and the post also features an exclusive glimpse at the cover art for Lethem’s forthcoming novel Dissident Gardens. (Bonus: a look at Dissident Gardens in our Great 2013 Book Preview.)
Remember that story you were going to write about your neighbor's dog but never did? When you're a writer, you have to know when to ditch both the bad and good ideas. At The Atlantic, Bob Brody laments all the stories he'll never write and concludes: "It’s taken me a long time to learn this—that sometimes the best course of action is inaction."
“At the train station in Cerbère, France, M. and I have survived the grueling hike on the Sentier de la Liberté Walter Benjamin.” For Catapult, Gwen Strauss writes about climbing the path that Benjamin used to flee the Gestapo, only to take his own life at its terminus. See also: Kyle Chayka's recommendation of The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction in our own pages just last week.
David Gessner thinks Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey are more relevant than they’ve ever been. Why? Their stories about the West anticipated the California drought. At Salon, Gessner explains why, among other things, Stegner spent much of his life debunking Western individualism.
"But reading Finnegans Wake is more than a matter of collecting one’s favorite quotations – even if there is a huge pleasure in that, especially if you admire truly terrible jokes." Michael Wood writes an essay on James Joyce, Lewis Carroll, and the origins of clever wordplay for the London Review of Books.
The theatrical trailer for the film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey was released this week. If you’re keeping track, that means we’ve now got a film based on fan fiction written about another film adapted from a schlocky romance novel involving vampires. (Come at me, Twilight fans.)