Following the example of Flaubert, whose Dictionary of Received Ideas compiled the clichés of its day, Teju Cole set out on Monday to record his own clichés on Twitter. At Page-Turner, he sums up his experiment in a blog post. (You may recall that this is not the first time Cole has won acclaim for his Twitter account.)
For The Guardian, Rafia Zakaria writes on the new wave of confessional “feminist” memoirs. As she puts it, “We’re on an uncomfortable tightrope between a bold new dialogue about women and sex, and the monetisation of that conversation by powers that recognise that as a gap in the market.” Pair with this Millions essay on feminist pop anthems.
“Thoreau did kill, cook and eat a woodchuck that was eating his beans. But he decided that was a lousy way to treat a woodchuck and he never did it again.” In celebration of his bicentennial, NPR sets straight five myths about Henry David Thoreau‘s diet, including the pernicious canard that he stole pies from neighbor’s windowsills. See also “My Summer with Henry,” on reading Thoreau’s Cape Cod on Cape Cod.
New releases this week include Keith Richard’s rock memoir Life, reviewed for The Millions by Jim Santel, Michael Caine’s The Elephant to Hollywood, an “unabashedly old-school celebrity memoir” according to its New York Times review, and Stephen Sondheim’s songwriting book Finishing the Hat.
In memory of Peter Matthiessen, The Missouri Review has unlocked an interview with him from 1989. Matthiessen detailed the beginning of his writing career. “I started my first novel and sent off about four chapters and waited by the post office for praise to roll in, calls from Hollywood, everything. Finally my agent sent me a letter that said ‘Dear Peter, James Fenimore Cooper wrote this a hundred and fifty years ago, only he wrote it better. Yours, Bernice.’ I probably needed that; it was very healthy.” For more Matthiessen, you can read one of his best travel essays or his new novel, In Paradise.
On the NY Daily News’ Page Views blog, Alexander Nazaryan writes about the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show’s most neglected — yet also most literary — member breed: the dachshund. “No dog,” Nazaryan writes, “has been more widely loved by writers and artists than the dachshund.” Comedian Streeter Seidell agrees that the dachshund was slighted, and calls for a “fan favorite” award next year.