It’s not every day that you come across a defense of literary elitism, but The Guardian’s Nicholas Lezard is tired of explaining that not everyone is a critic. “What I want when I read a book review is to find out what someone cleverer than me and better read than me thinks about whatever’s being reviewed,” he writes.
“Puzzled as to why her mother had not figured out “Miriam” on her own — or why, after Capote became famous, she did not say much about her letter and his answer — Ms. Akers sought clues.” The New York Times writes about recently discovered letter from Truman Capote to a young reader who misunderstood his first published story. Read our own Michael Bourne on the tragedy of Capote’s life.
“Just because I’m a woman, don’t assume that I automatically empathize with a brooding 20-something Elizabeth-Bennett-type protagonist. (Trust me, I don’t.) This doesn’t mean I can’t design … a biography on Susan Sontag—or, for that matter, a spy novel, a political satire, or a memoir about a Japanese game show host set in outer space. I can do all of these things. Because it’s my job to design book covers.” Over at The Literary Hub, a cover designer wonders why she’s always offered a particular type of book.
Andrew O’Hagan, whose books have gotten some Booker Prize notice over the years, has a new one out (it’s been out in the UK for a while now) called The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe, which, as the title perhaps suggests, is told in the voice of Monroe’s Scottish maltese poodle called Maf. Also out this week is Tom Clancy’s first new “Jack Ryan” thriller in quite some time, Dead or Alive.
On February 17th, the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program will launch a free digital course open to everybody with an internet connection. The course is entitled “Every Atom: Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself,” and registration is now open. The course will “take a collective approach to a close reading of America’s democratic verse epic.”
A startling conclusion from this data visualization of where in words each letter of the alphabet tends to fall: “the most common word may be ‘the, but the most representative word is ‘toe.’ ” (Also available: detailed methodology and algorithms for the data geeks; an explanation of data-viz as a narrative form for everyone else.)