Why did Richard Brautigan’s friends eventually stop inviting him to parties? Was it because he got drunk? Was it because he brought too many friends? Or was it because, as Michael LaPointe suggests in his review of Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan, he liked to pack a revolver?
David Byrne, Talking Heads frontman, sits down with Smithsonian Magazine’s Seth Colter Walls to discuss his life, musical tastes, and his latest book, How Music Works. You can also read an excerpt from the book over here. (Also, you know, just because I have to…)
Following a long battle with cancer, David Rakoff died Thursday night at the age of 47. Rakoff recently delivered a novel entitled Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish to Doubleday, and fans can look out for it next year. Reflections on Rakoff’s life and legacy can be read courtesy of Jason Diamond and Choire Sicha, and two of Rakoff’s best This American Life pieces can be found here and here.
Researchers have determined that “winning a prestigious prize in the literary world seems to go hand-in-hand with a particularly sharp reduction in ratings of perceived quality.” So if you’re very sensitive, take some solace in the fact that you haven’t won a major award, I guess.
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.
Kevin Courier is re-running interviews he did for the CBC in the 1980s on the Critics At Large site. Here’s his 1986 interview with Barbara Brenden, author of The Passion of Ayn Rand. Brenden’s book, Courier writes, “not only unveiled this polarizing figure” of Ayn Rand, but it “also illustrated the perils of blind faith and idolatry.” Given the Objectivist’s influence on a certain vice presidential candidate, this one’s worth a read.
A while back, our own Mark O’Connell argued that Flann O’Brien, in The Poor Mouth, was the funniest writer who ever lived. Now, in an essay, Erin Somersin says the title should go to Mordecai Richler instead. She writes about the Canadian author’s unique sense of humor in a piece for the Ploughshares blog.