Jonathan Franzen’s Kraus Project should be “a match made in heaven,” writes Jacob Mikanowski, because of how it pairs together “the old hater [Karl Kraus] and the new [Franzen], the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of cultural criticism drawn together across the gulf of a century to take on all comers.” Alas, the end result is instead a “strange and rather discordant experience, like receiving a deep tissue massage while being spat on from a great height.” (Bonus: One of the best London Review of Books openers of all time.)
Authors, including Jennifer Egan, George Saunders, Ali Smith, and our own Chigozie Obioma, chose their Best Books of 2017 in a two-part series for The Guardian. If you enjoyed that list, make sure to check out our Year in Reading: 2017 series all throughout December.
“There are so many ways to look at translation. One that has recently occurred to me is that of a tether: the translator is tethered to the meaning of the original the way an animal can be tethered to a stake. You can’t take off and roam the hills, but you can definitely move around and experience a comfortable degree of freedom.” Asymptote talks with Juliet Winters Carpenter about Japanese tanka poetry, Machi Tawara‘s Salad Anniversary, and the careful balance of translation.
The Atlantic on George Carlin’s seven dirty words as they turn 40 years old. You can watch a 1978 performance on YouTube, if you’ve never heard the routine. Maybe put the headphones on, though, as the language is, as you might expect, deliciously filthy, so yeah, NSFW.
“Literary interviews became popular in the eighteen-eighties, but Richard Altick, the late professor of Victorian literature at Ohio State University, traces the public fascination with writers’ homes at least as far back as the eighteen-forties, when there was a vogue for books describing the houses and landscapes of famous authors, complete with engravings and, later, photographs.” On the strangeness of literary celebrity.