A real estate blog has calculated the approximate value of Hogwarts, and you might be surprised to learn that it’s worth only a fraction of a real life abode in Mumbai, and only about three times more than one in Orlando.
When John Steinbeck wasn’t busy writing 600-page novels, he might have been a Cold War CIA spy. In 1952, Steinbeck approached the CIA and suggested he could do some spying on an upcoming European trip. “The pace and method of my junket together with my intention of talking with great numbers of people of all classes may offer peculiar advantages,” he wrote to an agent.
A South Korean designer has created “a translucent plastic tray with a slot for your reading material – be it paper, magazine or book – and a specially marked spot for mugs.” The idea is to prevent unfortunate coffee spills from ruining your morning newspaper. Or, you know, you could just stop being so clumsy.
Shakespeare was an insult master, as were Churchill, Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde and… Cézanne? Apparently so. In The Irish Times, Colm Tóibín reads through the painter’s letters, one of which includes a gripe that “Pissarro is an old fool [and] Monet is a wily bird.” (You could also read Claire Cameron’s Millions review of Tóibín’s latest novel.)
Modern day celebrities aren’t the only victims of Photoshop. Paula Byrne, a Jane Austen biographer, believes that Austen has been “airbrushed” on her £10 Bank of England note. The portrait makes her look like “a pretty doll with big doe eyes” and diminishes her reputation as an author, Byrne argues.
Among this week’s new books we have The Twelve by Justin Cronin (our review), The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski (our interview), The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira by César Aira (our review), and Zoo Time by past Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson. In non-fiction, Mark Bowden has penned an account of the killing of bin Laden.