Charles Baxter doesn’t believe in writing routines, but he does have some odd superstitions. “I don’t like to spill salt. I throw it over my left shoulder. But if I spill salt in the morning, my day is fucked,” he told The Daily Beast.
Before he was Michael Chabon the novelist he was Michael Chabon the punk musician. Now recordings of his work with The Bats are available online as part of Mind Cure Records archival series.
This essay from Adrian Barnes at The Daily Beast on cancer and fiction and how the two mirror one another is eerie and fascinating. This review of Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby from The Millions addresses this tendency of writing and real world illnesses to feed of of one another.
Also the name of a beautiful book of poetry by Jake Adam York, a group of starlings is known as a “murmuration.” One could make the case that the birds are America’s most literary. Each of the hundreds of millions of European starlings currently inhabiting North America is a descendant of the approximately 100 birds released in New York City’s Central Park in the early 1890s. They were released by a society intent on populating America with each of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays.
Among the books hitting shelves this week are Pulitzer winner and New Yorker staffer Louis Menand’s The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University and memoirist and poet Nick Flynn’s The Ticking is the Bomb. Also new, Melville House is putting out a novella, Union Jack, by Nobel laureate Imre Kertész, and NYRB Classics has published Fortunes of War: The Balkan Trilogy a novel by Olivia Manning based on her time in Eastern Europe during World War II. Rachel Cusk provides an introduction to the edition.
More amusement has been prompted by The History of Love author Nicole Krauss’s arguably over-the-top blurb for David Grossman’s To the End of the Land: “To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being.” Following Guardian’s subsequent contest for who can write the most absurdly laudatory blurb for a Dan Brown novel, Laura Miller at Salon dissects why author endorsements are so unreliable.