Some people scribble in books. Some don’t. Some people (like former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas) chuck books with marginalia out the window.
Over at The New Yorker, Roa Lynn recalls going to Pablo Neruda’s home and getting him to write her a poem: “Would he read a few of the poems that I had brought with me? To my delight, he said that after lunch he would take his customary nap and after that he would read our poems. If he liked them, he would write something for our book.” Pair with this Millions essay about Neruda’s house in Isla Negra.
If you see something, read something: Yesterday New York City’s MTA launched Subway Reads, an eight-week-long initiative allowing strap-hangers to download novellas, short stories, or excerpts from books via the city’s new(ish) wi-fi service in 175 underground stations. They’ve even timed the length of Which news in turn begs the question: what would Borges say?
Recommended reading: Michael Booth writes for The Paris Review about the work of Danish author Aksel Sandemose and the “enduring mark on the national character” his satirical Jante Law has left.
Nemesis, the latest from Philip Roth is now out. Other new fiction this week includes Nicole Krauss’ Great House and Myla Goldberg’s The False Friend. In non-fiction, Steven Johnson takes on a thought-provoking topic with Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. Also new are Ron Chernow’s massive biography of George Washington and a new book from Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life.
“War veterans experience something called hypervigilance, a mental state of continual alertness for danger. I have a minor version of this, a writer’s version. For me, danger lies in the sound of a footstep, a spoken word. Anyone could destroy the fragile construction I have to make each day.” Roxana Robinson writes for VQR about the writer’s need for solitude. For more from Robinson, be sure to check out her essay for The Millions on Edith Wharton.
Almost a year ago, Emily Rapp’s son Ronan passed away from Tay-Sachs disease. At The Rumpus, Rapp discusses her loss and how it affects her current pregnancy. “A boy was born in the world, already doomed by genetics, in March 2010. A girl, if all goes well, will be born in the world in March 2014, and born to do what?”