The Guardian picked its longlist for the 15th annual First Book Award, and it features selections from both NoViolet Bulawayo and Donal Ryan – two authors named to this year’s Booker Longlist as well.
“Can we ever pinpoint a person’s true identity? … How can we point to something in the world with complete accuracy, without also being meaninglessly redundant? Harpo’s answer to ‘who are you?’ is a visual-gag version of the Buddha’s infuriatingly honest answer to the same question. When asked who he was, he would say, gesturing to himself: I am thathagatha (the one who is like this).” On Groucho Marx, nihilism, and the destruction of comedy over at Slate.
“Writing gives me great feelings of pleasure. There’s a marvelous sense of mastery that comes with writing a sentence that sounds exactly as you want it to. It’s like trying to write a song, making tiny tweaks, reading it out loud, shifting things to make it sound a certain way. It’s very physical. I get antsy. I jiggle my feet a lot, get up a lot, tap my fingers on the keyboard, check my e-mail. Sometimes it feels like digging out of a hole, but sometimes it feels like flying. When it’s working and the rhythm’s there, it does feel like magic to me.” Susan Orlean on why she writes.
“Her pincers tore at me… I stormed her openings as if she was a beleaguered fortress.” We’re wincing-slash-laughing at Lapham’s Quarterly‘s infographic of authors’ attempts to put sex down on the page throughout history. Pair with author Julia Fierro‘s great piece about trying to *do it* in her first novel.
“Adolf Hitler loved books—that nasty bent for book burning notwithstanding—and the book industry loves him back. Type his name into Amazon, and while he doesn’t trigger the English-language numbers of Jesus (186,740) or Lincoln (70,710), he registers a solid 18,597—a stunning figure for someone who died less than 70 years ago.” On the Fuhrer’s paradoxical relationship with literature.