Anjuli Raza Kolb reviews Rachel Poliquin’s The Breathless Zoo, which “tracks the history of whole animal and animal specimen preservation, particularly taxidermy, which refers to the stretching and mounting of the skins of vertebrates, from the seventeenth-century European explorers to the present, with a heavy focus on Victorian practitioners and collectors.” No word on whether or not Poliquin remarks on this curious Danish Facebook group of terrible taxidermy. (Bonus: Caitlin Horrocks’s new story on FiveChapters, “The Lion of Gripsholm – Part Four: IV. The Taxidermist.”)
A few weeks ago, I pointed you to this piece on the surprising racism of children’s books. The essay was a response to controversy surrounding the rescinded publication of Ramin Ganeshram’s A Birthday Cake for George Washington, which upset readers with its confusing, cheerful illustrations and alleged misrepresentation of the nature of slavery. Over at The Guardian Ganeshram defends herself and addresses the problem of cover design versus author intent.
Much fuss was made about Barack Obama’s ex-girlfriends this week, as an excerpt from David Maraniss’ forthcoming Barack Obama: The Story was published in Vanity Fair. Of course, we sophisticated book readers care less about the man’s old flames than we do his literary pursuits, right? That’s why Mr. President’s analysis of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” is so interesting.
“According to an interview with her publishers in the Italian literary newsletter Il Libraio, translated in The Guardian, Ferrante is putting pen to paper once more.” A year after Elena Ferrante‘s alleged true identity was revealed by a journalist, the intensely-private author is writing again but has no plans to publish a novel in 2018. Pair with: staff writer Marie Myung-Ok Lee‘s essay on Ferrante, privacy, and woman writers.
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.”