Recommended Reading: Tyler Stoddard Smith’s essay on when Allen Ginsberg stayed with his family. “The following night, after Ginsberg’s poetry reading (why would I want to go to that?) a group of students eager for him to impart morsels of omniscience were forced to wait outside my room while we played video games on my Atari 2600—I destroyed Ginsberg at Frogger, but he eviscerated me on Combat.”
Perhaps inspired by the similarly-named astronomer, Freeman Dyson wrote an entry for the NYT’s By the Book series, in which he praises Edward Wilson, Kristin Ghodsee, Robert Kanigel and Octavia Butler, the last of whom he dubs his favorite novelist of all time. Sample quote: “The Magic City can be read on two levels, as a children’s adventure story and as a critique of modern society. Karl Marx was a friend of [Edith] Nesbit’s family.”
If you’re in need of a great read this week, you’ll be glad to know that Byliner has compiled a list of 101 spectacular nonfiction stories from 2011. They run the gamut from investigative to personal to borderline trivial: There’s Mac McClelland’s incredibly daring and disturbing essay on working through PTSD through controlled sexual violence, alongside Jon Mooallem’s history of the high five. Happy reading!
In general, we think of translators as people whose job, briefly summarized, is to create elegant texts out of works in foreign languages. But J.R.R. Tolkien, in his translation of Beowulf, set out to do something different. The Lord of the Rings author published a translation that he kept intentionally clunky. Why? In his telling, he did it to better imitate Old English.
We are longtime fans (and participants) of The Morning News‘s Tournament of Books, and so were thrilled to learn they’re starting up a summer book club with a ToB twist. Join them in reading Katie Kitamura‘s A Separation and The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge, starting in just a week and a half.