Working off of some investigative work done by Ronald Hamilton – a writer who recently worked as a bookbinder at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania library – Into the Wild author Jon Krakauer may have finally determined the cause of Christopher McCandless’s death in the Alaskan wilderness.
At My Life and Thoughts, Elif Batuman–in delightfully Elifish style–describes her first book travails and unveils a preliminary sketch for the cover of her forthcoming first book The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, drawn by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.
“What made The Great Gatsby so great? Does everyone think he’s that great? Why?” Just in time for the back-to-school rush: essay questions from a teacher who didn’t finish any of the required reading (a.k.a. McSweeney’s).
Over at Full Stop, Sean Minogue argues that social media can have a positive influence on a writer’s creative development. He mentions Twitter extraordinaire Teju Cole, who thinks his involvement in online discussions “comes from the non-American part of me which is saying that novelists in every other country, with the exception of the American or the Anglo-American sphere, actually consider it part of their work to engage.” Pair with our piece on the best of literary Twitter.
In the early days of sportswriting, journalists weren’t necessarily focused on soccer, football or even baseball. In the forties, boxing and horse racing were still important beats, and they gave W.C. Heinz the opportunity to build his legacy. In the Times, a review of The Top of His Game, a new collection of the reporter’s sportswriting. You could also read Sebastian Stockman on the problem with sportswriting as a genre.
“Fifty Shades of Grey follows this long history of class ascendancy via feminine wiles, but does so cleverly disguised as an edgy modern bodice-ripper,” writes Heather Havrilesky in the latest issue of The Baffler. Throughout the piece, Havrilesky explores the way luxury brand fetishism and conspicuous consumption fueled E.L. James’s “female-friendly” pornography phenomenon
New this week: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood; Gold, Fame, Citrus, by Claire Vaye Watkins; Vertigo by Joanna Walsh; Syllabus of Errors by Troy Jollimore; The Good Story by Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz; I Must Be Living Twice by Eileen Myles; and The Complete Works of Primo Levi. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
As you might expect, the literature of England is characterized by a fair amount of rain, but what’s interesting is that the Victorian era had the rainiest literature of all. In The Guardian, a look into the history of downpours and drizzles in English narratives. (via Arts and Letters Daily)