Recommended (Like) Reading: A.E. Stallings like totally demolished the Sestina form.
At Open Letters, Rohan Maitzen writes about her awakening to the chasm between an academic appreciation for books and "a more personal, affective, and engaged vision of criticism. It has been surprising and exciting to me to realize how blinkered I was about non-academic book culture, and chastening to realize how little use my own specialized reading has been as preparation to join in."
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.
Lots of anticipated books hitting shelves today. At the top of the list is Michael Lewis's look at the recent financial calamity, The Big Short. Also new today, Chang Rae Lee's The Surrendered, Ron Rash's story collection Burning Bright, Lionel Shriver's So Much for That, and James Hynes' Next, about which we have noted some intriguing Twitter buzz. New in paperback are Victor LaValle's The Big Machine and Dave Eggers' The Wild Things.