Every year, like clockwork, a few brave administrators ban a classic book in time for the opprobrium of Banned Books Week. This year, the brave administrators in question work in Randolph County, NC, where Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison will no longer be on the curriculum. Why? Real quote: it’s a “hard read.” (Related: Kelsey McKinney on banning The Bluest Eye.)
For better or worse, the publication date of Umberto Eco's final book has been bumped up -- originally set for a summertime release, Pepe Satàn Aleppe: Chronicles of a Liquid Society is now due out in Italian this weekend. Check out this Eco essay on how to travel with a salmon.
A Mississippi school district has decided to pull Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird from its junior-high reading list because it "makes people uncomfortable." The novel, which frequently tops the American Library Association's "Frequently Challenged Book" list, tackles racism. See also: an essay on the symbolism of mockingbirds.
Some copies of Mad About the Boy – the latest installment in Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones series – included passages from British actor David Jason’s memoir, which was being released on the same day. Supposedly the entire thing was one big mistake. Over at the LA Times, however, Dan Zevin imagines “a juicier scenario.”
“Contemporary criticism is positively crowded with first-person pronouns, micro-doses of memoir, brief hits of biography. Critics don’t simply wrestle with their assigned cultural object; they wrestle with themselves, as well. Recent examples suggest a spectrum, from reviews that harmlessly kick off with a personal anecdote, to hybrid pieces that blend literary criticism and longform memoir.” On why critics get personal in their essays.
The brief excerpt of The Late American Novel that appeared in the New York Times Magazine this past weekend was also the first appearance of "A Tiny New Culture Section With No Name," part of the Magazine's redesign. At the Magazine's "behind-the-scenes" blog, Editor Adam Sternbergh talks about the tiny new section and has some very nice things to say about The Late American Novel as well.