If you read Lydia Kiesling’s recent piece about Granta’s Young British Novelists and thought to yourself, “That John Freeman guy sounds like a grand ol’ chap, but I think I could do his job better,” then I have two things to say: 1) That’s kind of a rude thing to think to yourself. And 2) You’re in luck, I guess, because he’s in need of a replacement.
Here are the first lines of the new David Mitchell novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, forthcoming in July: “‘Miss Kawasemi?’ Orito kneels on a stale and sticky futon. ‘Can you hear me?’ In the rice paddy beyond the garden, a cacophony of frogs detonates. Orito dabs the concubine’s sweat-drenched face with a damp cloth.”
Richard Branson has built a global business empire (Virgin Group) around the philosophy “have fun and the money will come.” Branson’s new book, Screw Business as Usual, says there’s a way to make money and also do good. And speaking of having fun, watch Branson and Steven Colbert get into a fire extinguisher/water fight.
“One Friday evening in March, I took the train to Columbia University and walked into one of the strangest and most interesting classes I’d ever seen. It was the Laboratory of Literary Architecture, part of the Mellon Visiting Artists and Thinkers Program at Columbia University School of the Arts, and a multimedia workshop in which writing students, quite literally, create architectural models of literary texts.”
“For a woman to be a flâneuse, first and foremost, she’s got to be a walker – someone who gets to know the city by wandering its streets, investigating its dark corners, peering behind façades, penetrating into secret courtyards. Virginia Woolf called it ‘street haunting’ in an essay by that name: sailing out into a winter evening, surrounded by the ‘champagne brightness of the air and the sociability of the streets,’ we leave the things that define us at home, and become ‘part of that vast republican army of anonymous trampers.’” On the female flâneur. Also check out this Millions essay about the flâneur in modern fiction.
Greg Mortenson, whose legal and ethical battles we’ve mentioned before, has agreed to repay $1,000,000 of the funds he allegedly embezzled from the Central Asia Institute.
Much fuss was made about Barack Obama’s ex-girlfriends this week, as an excerpt from David Maraniss’ forthcoming Barack Obama: The Story was published in Vanity Fair. Of course, we sophisticated book readers care less about the man’s old flames than we do his literary pursuits, right? That’s why Mr. President’s analysis of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” is so interesting.