Landlord, patron, gardener, traveler— Elizabeth Gilbert is so much more than a memoirist. Steve Almond profiles Gilbert for The New York Times and finds out about her return to fiction with her new novel, The Signature of All Things. Yet Gilbert doesn’t disparage her Eat, Pray, Love fame and readers, even if others do. “I want to say: ‘Go [expletive] yourself! You have no idea who the women are who read my books, and if I have to choose between them and you, I’m choosing them.’”
Adorable pictures of baby hippos aside, it’s a common misconception that animals are “smiling” at you out of sincere happiness. Probably you’re projecting that onto them, writes Lee Dye in a piece from 2010. For more on the perils of assigning human qualities to other animal species, I highly recommend checking out Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy’s When Elephants Weep.
Man Booker judge Colin Thubron expressed frustration with gushing book blurbs, which he says “almost blackmail” readers: “you’re either intellectually or morally incompetent if you don’t love this book or you’ve failed if you haven’t understood it.” Our own Bill Morris tackled the age old question—”To Blurb or not Blurb”—a few years ago.
A week after it wins the Booker, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is now on American shelves. Jonathan Lethem’s newest Chronic City comes out today. Dave Eggers’ novelization of a movie based on a children’s book, Wild Things is out in standard and special fur-covered editions. A Lydia Davis-translated French “masterpiece” is out today from NYRB Classics.
In part because I loved Sam Anderson’s riff on Barthes in this weekend’s NYT Magazine so much, I was thrilled to see Maud Newton tweet this link this 2010 article on Barthes’s handwriting, featuring a slideshow of note cards Barthes used to compose his Mourning Diary.