“Most writers … don’t ask questions of a journalist,” writes How to Read a Novelist author John Freeman. But what of those that do? Over the course of a fifteen year career, Freeman has found that “what the novelists asked of me told me [a great deal] about them,” and that a big problem with the standard format for author interviews, after all, is that “the conventions of the interview deprive us of one thing a novelist does quite a bit, which is ask questions.” (Bonus: Freeman will be in conversation with Jennifer Egan Thursday night at McNally Jackson.)
Water coolers across the nation were abuzz this week with news of the James Cameron-backed and billionaire-led initiative to begin mining resources from the asteroid belt. It's the stuff of science fiction, and it may seem hard to believe, but the company's actually already begun hiring prospective space miners!
With the full trailer out for the upcoming James Bond release, Skyfall, I have to confess I’m totally obsessing over British spy stuff of late. Luckily there are some supplements to scratch that itch: Tina Rosenberg’s new story for The Atavist, D for Deception, about a real British spy writer who became a spy himself; Bee Wilson’s fascinating review of Ben MacIntyre’s outrageous but true investigation of WWII double agents, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies; Alexander Cockburn's recap of the time George Orwell supplied "a list of the names of persons on the left who he deemed security risks" to the IRD; the story of Ernest Hemingway's lousy espionage; and the video Her Royal Majesty's recent skydiving escapade with 007.
“There was an inefficient system in place, and what I did was subvert it by an external rotation of reluctant holly jollies. Nasally, I came to understand that light is a thing that is produced through the collision of particulates, and boy isn’t that the truth.” As part of their year-end review, McSweeney’s republished their ten most popular pieces of 2014, including the above. Its title? “Donald Barthelme Narrates the Progress of the Reindeer.”
David Foster Wallace stranded on a desert island.Another reason to love Washington Post critic Jonathan Yardley: his refreshingly enthusiastic take on "slacker fiction" and All the Sad Young Literary Men by Keith Gessen, who, admittedly, "scarcely qualifies as a slacker."Paul Auster was a protesting, fence-tearing, rioting crazy '68er, too, it turns out.The phenomenal Burkhard Bilger supplements his New Yorker piece on folk-music field recordings with some audio.Malcolm Gladwell's seemingly endless string of public appearances continues. This one is, intriguingly, a public "book discussion" with the Washington, D.C. chief of police.With some speculating that CBS News is about to close up shop and that Katie Couric is on her way out, rumors are already swirling about the obligatory memoir.Jonathan Franzen answers the question "Do you regret your run-in with Oprah?" in a "Big Think" video. Aficionados of Franzen mannerisms may also enjoy the other fifteen or so Franzen videos that Big Think has available.
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