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.)
“It’s not easy to choose only five books, so I made up my mind and decided to mention the five I can’t help reading again, once in a while, because they are still here for me today.” Here’s a list of five necessary French books that you should be reading, including works by Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Marguerite Duras.
Over at Salon, Joel Whitney explains how The Paris Review worked with the CIA and “served, in part, as a covert international weapon of soft power.” While the possibility is certainly tantalizing, it’s necessary to read Whitney’s article alongside Carolyn Kellogg’s piece in the LA Times, which notes how “the threads of the article … become unsupportably tenuous” as it carries on.
In Wayde Compton’s The Outer Harbour, a series of short stories take the reader from the present day to 2025, exploring a near-future Vancouver in which things grow steadily more surreal. As Emily Oppenheimer writes, it’s clearly a work of speculative fiction, yet the setting resembles our own world in uncanny ways. Sample quote: “Compton achieves the more troubling, yet ultimately more satisfying, goal of portraying the fantastical as something that is very much rooted in what we think we already know about ourselves and our world.”