For only $1.65 million, you can have a piece of Joan Didion’s childhood. Her high school home, The Didion House, is on the market in Sacramento. Before you make a bid, it might be good to brush up on California with Didion’s 2003 memoir, Where I Was From.
In spite of the title of her blog post, Lily Meyer doesn’t think Ann Patchett is really an enemy of Zadie Smith. Instead, she thinks the two authors play opposing roles in her life, thanks largely to the different effects their books have on her perceptions. At the Ploughshares blog, she contrasts their novels, using excerpts from White Teeth and Bel Canto. Related: Kevin Charles Redmon’s review of Patchett’s novel State of Wonder.
We have returned from Los Angeles, where it was so sunny and warm, to Chicago, where it is so cloudy and cold. It actually rained briefly one of the days we were in LA, and we thought it was hilarious that everyone kept apologizing for it. If people apologized for bad weather in Chicago, nobody would have time to talk about anything else. Anyway, I’ve spent the day catching up on e-mails, RSS feeds, blogs and the like, and I thought I’d share the links that caught my eye.Mad Max Perkins, editor and secret-identity blogger, returned from a long hiatus to reveal the title of the novel that he had gotten so excited about editing back when he was a regular blogger. The novel is Dope by Sara Gran, and I have to admit, I’m very intrigued. In the process, Perkins revealed himself to be none other than Dan Conaway of Penguin Putnam, as Sarah at GalleyCat explains.At BookLust, a gorgeous sculpture constructed out of books.Hikikomori, Japan’s epidemic of shut ins. In the New York Times.An oddly terrifying look at all the psychological engineering that goes on in reality shows: The Omarosa Experiment at The Morning News.Hilarious and informative: Outrageous firsts in television history.Jonathan Yardley’s review of Michael D’Antonio’s Hershey gives an interesting snapshot of the chocolate magnate’s life.
“Somehow, in my eagerness to honor these words, I’d tamed the political intentions behind their meaning. I’d reduced my icon’s truths into affirmational pick-me-ups rather than letting them sink deeper.” Dianca Potts reflects on how to best to appreciate the fullness of Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison. We need to resist erasing their complexities in our haste to embrace them as icons or reduce them to inspirational quotes.
“The Terminal C Baja Fresh sign gleams like living flame. I feast. The salsa bar is limitless. The refills overflow. I browse John Grisham courthouse thrillers within Hudson Booksellers for 15 minutes… or was it a millennia? Time is a breath to me now.” Jeff Loveness for McSweeney’s is TSA PreCheck, and now he is a God.
“What knits together the families of Roth’s Newark are adults—some foreign-born but many the children of immigrants—who either experienced the insecurity and deprivation of the Old World themselves or heard stories about it from their own parents. What they want most is to find stability in a neighborhood, in a city, and in a country that offers them the chance at security for their families.” On Philip Roth and Newark, NJ.
Also the name of a beautiful book of poetry by Jake Adam York, a group of starlings is known as a “murmuration.” One could make the case that the birds are America’s most literary. Each of the hundreds of millions of European starlings currently inhabiting North America is a descendant of the approximately 100 birds released in New York City’s Central Park in the early 1890s. They were released by a society intent on populating America with each of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays.
David Mitchell, when questioned about his language and genre experiments, particularly in Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, responds: “It’s a bit like asking a duck billed platypus if it should be considered a mammal or a bird.” The Millions also profiled Mitchell, though we never settled either way on the bird/mammal issue.