Few people know that Roger Ebert was an ardent Anglophile, so much so that in 1986 he wrote an obscure little book, The Perfect London Walk, in which the lifelong film critic laid out his preferred walking path through the city. Over at Slate, Katie Engelhart reviews the book, which apparently still functions as a guide to a decent stroll.
Actor and humorist Nick Offerman at “By The Book” on choosing George Saunders to write his hypothetical life story: “I think [Saunders] would embarrass me by telling the justifiable truth, but with such élan that I would have to shrug and say, ‘It was worth it.’ If anybody could pull it off, I believe Mr. Saunders would have the tools and talent necessary to render the woodshop traumas of sandpaper and spokeshave, the roller coaster dynamics of a character actor’s life in showbiz, and my relentless penchant for filling a room with noxious gases into a palatable narrative. George — if you’re reading this and you’re up for it — before you dive in, I would just like to say that I think you’re very handsome.”
There is good news for those of us whose dreams of artistic superstardom don’t seem to be panning out — a job listing from McSweeney’s seeking failed artists for an associate position. “We would hate for you to be pretentious,” the listing states, “but if you don’t regularly call other people pretentious — this might not be the job for you.”
“Almost as soon as the concept of the Great American Novel was invented, in the nation-building years after the Civil War, Buell finds it being mocked, noting that one observer dryly put it into the same category as ‘other great American things such as the great American sewing-machine, the great American public school, and the great American sleeping-car.’ It was enough of a cliché by 1880 for Henry James to refer to it with the acronym ‘GAN,’ which Buell employs throughout his book.” On the reigning gold standard for quality in American fiction. (Related: we asked nine experts their picks for the best American novel.)