To give context to a new William Vollmann essay about reading his own FBI profile (available to subscribers only, sadly), Harper’s Magazine published a few pages from Vollmann’s file online. Among other things, they reveal that the FBI considered Vollman “exceedingly intelligent and possessed with an enormous ego.” (For a taste of the Harper’s essay, you can read this WaPo article on Vollmann’s connection to the Unabomber.)
Can’t wait for this year’s Morning News Tournament of Books? The staff announced their shortlist and panel of judges this morning. The shortlist includes, among other books, Redeployment by Phil Klay, which took home this year’s National Book Award, as well as our own Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.
In Johns Hopkins Magazine, a remembrance of the Languages of Criticism and Sciences of Man Symposium, which brought together Jacques Lacan, Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida, among others. About Derrida, Professor Richard Macksey (whose library you may have seen) recalls: “I’m not sure we were clear about where this guy was going.”
The New York Times recently asked Jennifer Szalai and Mohsin Hamid why there isn’t a Great American Novel written by a woman? Both writers concluded that there is no such thing as the Great American Novel. “But if the idea of the Great American Novel is blinding us to exquisite fiction written by women, then perhaps its harm is exceeding its usefulness,” Hamid wrote. We think that’s a bit of a cop out. But a few women showed up on our list of the Greatest American Novels.
As the publication date nears for Robert Caro’s latest Lyndon Johnson installment, The Passage of Power, it’s a good idea to brush up on your history of Caro’s career. Enter Charles McGrath and his great portrait of one of the most prolific biographers of all time.