At NPR’s blog, Meg Wolitzer chooses five summer books that deserve more attention from readers. If you’re a Millions regular, though, you may find her selections a wee bit familiar, seeing as we reviewed Jessica Soffer’s book, interviewed This Is Running For Your Life author Michelle Orange and published The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards author Kristopher Jansma.
Check out a new essay from Zadie Smith in NYRB on the uncanny, Schopenhauer, and Anomalisa. “That we believe ourselves to be separate from each other, and separate from the apparent objects of our desire, was, for Schopenhauer, the root of our suffering.” For more on Smith, read our review of NW.
Boston has announced the country’s first “Literary Culture District,” marked by memorials to Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath. It also includes some arguably less interesting sites – the buildings that used to house The Atlantic Monthly and Little, Brown and Company, for example. Caroline O’Donovan writes critically about the new district for The Baffler and concludes that “we’ve allowed glib cultural ideals to occlude economic realities, and tourism tax dollars to triumph over a candid conversation about the origins of art and the sustainability of its production.”
Recommended Reading: Here’s some helpful advice we all could use — how to raise a mensch: “Less obvious but equally central values that Marjorie Ingall highlights include having a healthy distrust of authority. Jews come from a vertiginously long tradition of ‘questioning, yammering, challenging and disputing,’ she writes. ‘The Talmud, the compendium of Jewish law, is pretty much a bunch of dudes contradicting one another. Each page is a big box of text in the middle, and wrapped around it like a frame is lots of ‘Wait, you think what?’ '”
“Every streetlight is a slightly different hue/of white the squares like the blank faces of robots/offer the Hondas and Toyotas idling in the lot something/like hope and yet I am thinking of all of the people on the planes/landing and taking off the twin miracles of arrival and departure/each of them singing ‘Take Me With You’ whether they know/the song or not they are all singing”. A poem written by Dean Rader on the day of Prince’s death.
Among the better tidbits from Gary Shteyngart’s diary of his book tour for Little Failure is the fact that he’s apparently had fellow Russian immigrants ask him to sign books for “a failed paralegal” and “a worse failure than even you.” If, after reading that, you’d like another dose of Shteyngart, you could do worse than his Year in Reading entry.