Want to catch up on John Updike in a single summer?Dick Cavett reminisces about the time Updike and John Cheever appeared on his talk show… together.Clancy Martin on his failed attempt to become the world’s largest maker of Fauxbergé eggs and how he evaded the Russian police.Ward Sutton literalizes the idea of the cartoonish critique at the Barnes & Noble Review. First up: T.C. Boyle’s The Women.Street artists smell a conspiracy around the recent arrest of “Hope”-monger Shepard Fairey, the artist formerly known as Giant.On the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran, our friend Porochista Khakpour looks back.WNYC presents streaming audio (mp3 link) of Zadie Smith’s NYPL talk on then-President-elect Obama.Fresh Air’s Maureen Corrigan raves about Yu Hua’s Brothers.More heads roll in the publishing industry.How close did we come to economic apocalypse?Glamorous publishing people: “No, there is no glamour left in publishing.”Food for your ears: “The Dinner Party Download is a fast and funny ‘booster shot’ of unconventional news, cuisine and culture to help you win this weekend’s dinner party.” Sarah Shun-lien Bynum was a recent guest.Amid stimulus package largess, arts getting left out in the cold.Epilogue, a new mag that marries short writings, art, and music.File under: links you probably don’t need to click on
“An ambidextrous cardsharp, who took losing as a personal insult; a proletarian agitator, who dressed like a dandy; a germ-fearing hypochondriac, smoking 100 cigarettes a day; a lady-killer with rotten teeth, causing a string of abortions wherever he went.” On the Soviet poet Mayakovksy.
“Ageists who want to fault millennials for the continual decline in literary reading are wrong to do so. Across the board, there wasn’t much considerable variation in the amount literature age groups read. Everyone is hanging out in the 39–49% range.” Is America in the midst of a literary recession? According to the National Endowment for the Arts, 2015 marked the first year in 33 cycles of research that the percentage of adults who read literature had dropped below 45% to a dismal 43%.
“I thought there were would be more in this writing life, an easier path to walk. I write those words and know they are the unwise thoughts of my younger self and that I am still too stubborn to give up on my dreams. When Annie Dillard invited me outside for that smoke, she knew very well what it would mean to a young writer like me. She intuited my ambitions and it was her way of encouraging me.” This essay is ostensibly about smoking cigarettes and playing catch with Annie Dillard, but it’s also about the incredibly important role that an established writer can play in helping a struggling up-and-comer.
Haruki Murakami’s latest (which we reviewed) is out this week, as is a new edition of Augustus, the 1973 National Book Award winner by Stoner author John Williams. Also out: Friendswood by Rene Steinke; The Lotus and the Storm by Lan Cao; Before, During, After by Richard Bausch; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan; and Your Face In Mine by Jess Row (which I wrote about for our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview).
A few months back, I wrote about Dear Mr. Watterson, which at the time was set to premiere at Cleveland’s International Film Festival. Well, fans of Calvin and Hobbes will be happy to learn that the Bill Watterson documentary has just released its first teaser trailer. Look for the flick to hit theaters this November.
If you like your music country/folk-ish with a difference, Joshua James new album Build Me This might be of interest. No Depression, the roots music blog, describes the album as a hybrid of “chain-gang chants, country-fuzz rave-ups, gospel rafter-raisers, southern blues grinds, and civil war camp songs.” Try not to be taken aback by the Jared Leto-in-a-mud-mask cover art.