Fun Fact: British radio and television presenter Alan Partridge (a fictional character played by Steve Coogan) is referenced in not one, not two, but seven entries in the Oxford English Dictionary. Oh, you cheeky Brits.
"For a novelist, writing letters is writing that is not writing," Ed Park says of P.G. Wodehouse's collected correspondence, A Life in Letters. The Year in Reading alum goes on to note that "a collection of letters is the unconscious narrative the author generates over the years."
Add this to the roster of great literary takedowns. Apparently Evelyn Waugh once wrote the following about Proust: “Nobody told me he was a mental defective. He had no sense of time.” (This stands in stark contrast with the views of Aleksandar Hemon, who wrote in a recent Year in Reading piece that Swann's Way is “one of those miraculous books that gets better with every re-reading.”)
It takes a certain skill to link Taipei by Tao Lin, My Struggle Part I and Part II by Karl Ove Knausgaard and an old book on Italian painting in a single essay, but Zadie Smith is (naturally) the writer for the job. In a new piece for The NY Review of Books, she asks the reader to “imagine [a drawing of a corpse] represents an absolute certainty about you, namely, that you will one day be a corpse.”
At The Washington Post, Michael Dirda on the dissolute genius Thomas De Quincey (opium addict, original chronicler of addiction, master of the macabre, prolific C19th essayist).