In the LA Times, Jim Ruland reviews Middle C, the new book by Year in Reading alumnus William H. Gass. For another take on the novel, go read “best-read man in America” Michael Dirda in the Washington Post, or else check out Greg Gerke on the author’s Life Sentences.
Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature posits that human violence is becoming less and less common in civilized culture. If your interest was piqued by the book's review in The New York Times, you will no doubt be interested in his Edge Master Class as well.
The 92nd Street Y is gearing up for next Monday's Celebration of Vladimir Nabokov, which falls on the eve of the publication of his last, unfinished novel, The Original of Laura. A recording of Nabokov's only reading at the 92nd Street Y was just posted at the 92Y Blog, and includes selections from Pale Fire and Lolita. Monday's event will feature Martin Amis and Chip Kidd, and a display of a dozen of Nabokov's 138 handwritten notecards, on which he composed the manuscript.
Slate books and culture columnist Laura Miller looks at what this year's bestseller list tells us about 2017. One of her conclusions, "2017 was the year that the very concept of a best-seller became even more dubious." After reading her analysis, check out our Year in Reading lists, whose authors found joy in reading and viewed it as one of the few good things of this year, even if the bestsellers of the year didn't reflect those feelings.
Harper Lee may have died earlier this year, but the drama surrounding her final years rages on. Last week, a stage adaptation of Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird was performed in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, as it has for many years. This time, however, things got a bit contentious. Here's a dispatch from Monroeville by Robert Rea for The Millions.
"Millennials are so frequently hyped as the first digital generation that people tend to forget that we were raised first and foremost with books. TV and the Internet may have shaped our identities, but so did old-fashioned, printed stories." Everybody is tired of the word "millennial," but this piece makes some great points about Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad series and how it taught children to understand and appreciate their individuality.
...meanwhile, quondam neighbor Jonathan Lethem has packed up for California (to take over the Pomona College position last held by David Foster Wallace). Just in time for Halloween, he raps with New York Magazine about the move...and about his new, book-length treatment of John Carpenter's They Live.