“It is hard to see why anyone would abandon the generous Pearce Sectional Sofa, so we must assume that whomever was under that cozy throw was taken by force. More signs of abduction: reading glasses left atop a rare antique encyclopedia, a half-finished glass of wine, and a decorative conch shell that has tumbled to the floor, not to mention the wide-open French doors.” Pottery Barn catalogue descriptions written by an aspiring crime novelist.
“Marlon James’s management of the voice and the paragraph isn’t what you’d call unpretty, and he’s good at having it both ways on a larger scale too. Reptilian black-ops masterminds out of a Robert Stone novel as well as bumbling CIA bureaucrats, baroque deaths in the bush and casual killings by the side of the road, historical and magic realism, sex and violence and a more ‘sophisticated kind of art’: the guy’s got it all.” This review of James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings from The London Review of Books is well worth the read.
The Great Gatsby, that quintessential American classic, was first published 90 years ago today. Over at Scribner Magazine authors ranging from Anthony Doerr to Christopher Beha remember their first encounters with the novel, and Time has republished its original review of the novel.
Over at Words Without Borders, Marguerite Feitlowitz writes on teaching the art of literary translation. As she puts it, “Bringing texts from one place to another, from one tongue, context, history, and human body to another, is itself a political act. We can tell the history of the world through the history of when major texts have been translated—and where, why, and by whom.” Pair with this Millions piece on literary translators at work.
Whether or not you believe that Oxford University Press is “the largest, most diverse and most respected university press in the world,” you’ll appreciate this review of a new history of the company, which goes through OUP’s origins, its relationship with its namesake and the opening of its New York office in 1896.
“Desire is transformative, and transgressive: whether it’s an unpeeled onion or a noble lover, to want something, especially for women, can never be entirely benign.” Kristiana Willsey writes about folktales, fairy godmothers, childless queens and hunger in a piece for The Toast.