With college football season officially upon us, I’d like to take some time to recommend some books and articles on the subject of my favorite game. For starters, check out Nick Ripatrazone’s Millions piece about Don DeLillo, sports scandals, and growing up with the game. Next, Taylor Branch’s quintessential ebook on the NCAA’s cartel-like stranglehold on the sport deserves a read from anybody who’s ever participated in or watched college athletics of any kind. (You can get a good idea of the book from his Atlantic piece, too.) And lastly, I recommend checking out John U. Bacon’s latest book, Fourth and Long, which examines how “money, influence and power haunt the league.” (You may recall Bacon’s name from when I reviewed his earlier book on college football last year.)
The Economist's nifty, new(?) culture mag More Intelligent Life is putting together guides to the best critics, including those who cover books; film; dance, art, and classical music, and rock music. Scott has performed a similar exercise for book reviewers, as well.Polite magazine: "Where Are They Now? A visit with Encyclopedia Brown"The estimable New York Sun books section follows our lead in adding a review archive.Nextbook asks: Where have all Bernard Malamud's readers gone?Vroman's, a legendary Southern California independent bookstore and the employer of Millions contributor Patrick, has been named Bookseller of the Year by PW.Richard Russo:"My fictional Eliot [Spitzer] would be complex, would contain paradoxes. He would not be a hypocrite. My Eliot would believe with his whole heart in his crusades against the corrupt and the powerful and the privileged, even as he worked studiously to undermine his legacy. Fiction can accommodate such paradoxes, provided they're explained."An open letter to Steve Jobs pleading for Apple to create an iPod optimized for "a best-of-breed reading experience." (via)One of our most anticipated books, Jonathan Littell's novel Les Bienveillantes won't be out in English for a while yet, but a new translation into German offers an opportunity for another review to trickle out.There are 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, but forget all that and "Read this column before you die."
"There’s no doubt that Life A User’s Manual takes an approach to depicting reality that is very different from the standard realist novel, which we have been conditioned to believe is the best and most-preferred way of representing our world...Though not without its enlightening aspects, this conversation has generally fallen into a simplistic dichotomy, where realist writing is described as giving us the real world of everyday life, and anything other than realist writing is seen as directing its energies toward a vague something that no one cares to define very well." A look at Oulipo and its legacy from Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, who recently wrote an Oulipo-themed Year in Reading for us.
John Darnielle, who you may know through his work with The Mountain Goats, released a new novel last week, titled Wolf in White Van. Over at The Hairpin, our onetime #LitBeat editor Emily M. Keeler reviews the book, which she calls “a novel that unspools rather than reads.” Pair with: Jesse Jarnow on the 33 ⅓ book series, which includes a volume written by Darnielle.
In Karen Russell's Swamplandia!, there is an enchanting place known as the abandoned Library Boat. "It held a cargo of books," Ava Bigtree explains, "In the thirties and forties, Harrel M. Crow, a fisherman and bibliophile, had piloted the schooner around our part of the swamp delivering books to the scattered islanders. Then Harrel M. Crow died and I guess that was it for the door-to-door service. But his Library Boat, miraculously, had survived on the rocky island, unscavenged, undestroyed by hurricanes. It was an open secret, utilized by all our neighbors." Now something similar has moored in England's canals. And, across the Atlantic, one New Yorker is keeping his own open secret.
In a Simpsons episode from the late nineties, Lisa Simpson, concerned that her mental skills may be deteriorating, manages to finagle her way onto a local TV news broadcast, where she urges the residents of Springfield to read two books: To Kill a Mockingbird and Harriet the Spy. At first glance, the two novels might not seem to have that much in common, but as Anna Holmes argues in a blog post for The New Yorker, the books share “ideas about the complexity, sophistication, and occasional wickedness of young girls’ imaginations.” (You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Malcolm Gladwell and To Kill a Mockingbird.)