A couple weeks ago, I wrote about this year’s Brandeis commencement, at which New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier argued that the humanities are under siege in America. In this week’s issue of Prospect Magazine, Malcolm Nicholson interviews Wieseltier, who claims that “we live in a culture of worthless praise.”
“Any day’s news supplies plots so fantastic that most make-believe story lines pale in comparison.” Author John Altman in the LA Times about the difficulty of writing fiction during Trump’s presidency. “My current novel-in-progress concerns North Korea,” writes Altman, “and each day’s headlines endanger its premise. But too much second-guessing hobbles a writer. One can only take a deep breath, remind oneself that war with North Korea would jeopardize much more than a humble spy thriller, and forge ahead, hoping for the best.”
“If the sentences are meticulously made, I’ll read anything, whether it’s as destabilizing as a Gary Lutz short story or as melancholy as a Chris Ware comic. The only books I give up on are texts where the writer’s attention is concentrated so heavily on narrative questions that his or her use of language becomes careless.” Anthony Doerr, whose All The Light We Cannot See won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, discusses genre, Calvin and Hobbes, and the 2,080 books he still wants to read as part of the New York Times Book Review‘s By the Book series.
Over at the Observer, Brent Underwood writes on how he self-published a fake book on Amazon. He sold a total of three copies, enough for him to earn the #1 Best Seller badge in several categories. Now his fake book has landed an actual book deal and is available in paperback.
Do you have 153 hours to kill? Do you love long French masterworks? If so, the folks at Naxos AudioBooks might have something up your alley. At 120-discs, publisher Nicolas Soames believes his company’s unabridged audiobook for Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past might just be the longest audiobook in existence. (Note: that means you’d still have 23 hours of the audiobook left after making this drive around the country.)
In her new book The Sixth Extinction, New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert makes the case that we’re living in the sixth massive die-off of species in our planet’s history. Corraling evidence from zoologists, environmentalists and more, Kolbert argues that human activity is the cause of this latest event. In a review over at Vulture, Kathryn Schulz writes that Kolbert “makes a page-turner out of even the most sober and scientifically demanding aspects of extinction.”