In 1952, John Steinbeck wrote that Al Capp, the cartoonist and Lil’ Abner creator, might well have been the best writer working in the world at the time. In the Times, Andy Webster reviews a new biography of Capp, which reveals that underneath it all lay “a toxic chip on his shoulder.”
Out this week: The Immortal Evening by Stanley Plumly; Last Winter We Parted by Fuminori Nakamura; Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll; Sometimes the Wolf by Urban Waite; Splitting an Order by the former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser; Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère; and The Heart Is Strange by John Berryman, which I wrote about as part of our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
In case you missed it: Google bought Frommer’s last August. Then in April, Google announced that it would stop printing hard-copy guidebooks, so founder Arthur Frommer bought his company back. All of this has led Doug Mack to argue that not only do we need guidebooks, but they should be part of the literary canon. “They also stand out for shaping history, if not always intentionally, because of their authoritative reputation—they have long been the best insight into that which would be otherwise unknown.”
We’ve linked to infographics about the life cycle of translated books, but that doesn’t cover the difficulties inherent in translation itself. The New Yorker‘s latest Out Loud podcast tackles this subject as Adam Gopnik talks with Ann Goldstein and Sasha Weiss about priorities in translation and how we identify with the languages we use.