Early on in her career, the poet Muriel Spark decided that Mary Shelley was criminally underrated as a writer. In bringing the Frankenstein author the fame she deserved, Spark wrote a biography, distanced Shelley from her famed poet husband and labeled her “the founder of science fiction.” (Related: our own Lydia Kiesling on Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.) (h/t Arts & Letters Daily)
New this week is Joshua Cohen’s Four New Messages, while John Banville (writing as Benjamin Black) is out with Vengeance. Also new on shelves: Aftermath, a memoir by Rachel Cusk; Peter Heller’s post-apocalyptic debut novel The Dog Stars; David Gillham’s novel of WWII Berlin, City of Women; and In the Shadow of the Banyan, Vaddey Ratner’s novel set in the Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge. Out in paperback are Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son and Edie Meidav’s Lola, California.
Columbia once moved its twenty-two miles of books by sending them down a really, really long slide. As The Paris Review documents, in 1934, the university stocked its then-new Butler Library with a slide that ran from Low Library to the new building. (No word on whether the slide is secretly used to this day.)
“What does the professoriate watch off the clock, in their precious moments of respite?” Because academics need breaks too, Sarah Kessler asks her colleagues what shows they’ll be binge-watching this summer. If you’re one of those weirdos who still prefers books, though, how about binge-reading Henry James?
When Arthur Conan Doyle wasn’t writing Sherlock Holmes, he was a practicing doctor. Thomas Goetz’s new book The Remedy discusses the history of tuberculosis and Doyle’s role in finding a cure with Robert Koch. The Daily Beast interviewed Goetz about how he came up with the idea for the book. “These two characters were part of a much larger story about how scientific discoveries evolve into social change.”
Robert Fitterman, author of Nevermind, a book of poems created from Nirvana’s seminal album, interviews critic and scholar Paul Stephens about his own work and Nirvana’s art. Looking for more music related lit? Check out our Torch Ballads and Jukebox Music section.
“Biography, even those of intellectual figures, assumes a general reader, a reader who does not understand or want to understand the ideas of its subject. The biography of a philosopher magnifies this approach, turning its attention simply to the ‘significant events’ in the life of the philosopher.” Derrida: the impossible biography?