Robert Perišic’s Our Man in Iraq made it onto the first installment of our Great 2013 Book Preview. A few weeks ago, Perišic sat down for an interview with John Feffer about ongoing changes in the author’s native Croatia, which recently acceded to the EU as its 28th member state.
“How is it possible that a smallish army of discerning readers agree that Jim Harrison is one of the few truly great living American writers, yet he has not gotten the wider audience—or the widespread praise—he so plainly deserves?” Our own Bill Morris has some theories.
At the Philadelphia Inquirer, neurologists look at cases where serious brain injury has actually brought about higher levels of creativity in artists, particularly where linguistic ability is harmed. “Language is the bully of the brain,” [one neurologist] says. “It takes up its own space and if something else gets crowded out, too bad.” (via Book Bench)
Blackout, the recent memoir by Sarah Hepola, chronicles the author’s long struggle with reckless drinking. The title references the total loss of memory she experienced after some of her worst benders. At The Morning News, Rosecrans Baldwin talks with Hepola about her book, amnesia and the nature of memory.
Bibliophiles will rejoice at The New York Times‘s current travel section, which is entirely book-dedicated. The staff lead with “Temples for the Literary Pilgrim,” which profiles jaw-dropping bookstores, cafés, and restaurants around the world; Ann Patchett provides a U.S. based bookstore pilgrimage; seven writers, including Geraldine Brooks and Ta-Nehisi Coates, reflect on their personal favorites; and Jennifer Moses writes about traveling as a bookworm. Might we also recommend this literary travelogue by Kate McCahill from our archives?
Apropos of nothing in particular, here’s a fantastic cake inspired by Moby-Dick. Apropos of whales in general, however, is this beautiful video on the disintegration of a whale carcass inspired by “Radiolab.”
The L.A. Times Book Prize finalists for 2013 have been announced. The five finalists in fiction are: Percival Everett’s Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs (also see her Year in Reading post), Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, Susan Steinberg’s Spectacle, and Daniel Woodrell’s The Maid’s Version. The winner will be announced on April 11.