Don’t forget to return your library books in Texas. This year an Austin man was arrested for failing to return a GED study guide that was three years overdue. Fines and arrest warrants are the new way to break even in towns with shrinking budgets. Other states, such as Iowa, Vermont, and Maine, are joining in.
Norman Rockwell was an unhappy and enervated man who became iconic by painting scenes of happy, energetic people. He developed a style that became synonymous with idyllic visions of America. At Page-Turner, Lee Siegel reads Deborah Solmon's American Mirror, a new biography of Rockwell that acknowledges the painter’s contradictions without “mocking or scolding” him for the gulf between his life and his art.
RSVP: We've already had several RSVPs for our NYC indie bookstore walking tour. Get all the details via our announcement post.People are still adding to our collaborative literary Atlas. Recent additions include several non-bookstore literary spots in the Midwest, including the Kate Chopin House and the final resting place of William S. Burroughs. The Atlas itself has been viewed over 100,000 times.Panelists at the SXSW "New Think for Old Media" panel face death by a thousand Tweets.Also via Freebird: Iggy Pop explores Michel Houellebecq's raw power.Mark Grief and Year in Reading contributor Wells Tower give far-ranging interviews in a new online journal, Wag's ReviewHanif Kureishi discusses life after the Rushdie fatwa.A bibliography of coffee.The editor of John Updike's book reviews remembers the writer: "he was attentive to everything."Cathleen Schine admires Zoe Heller's The Believers.The Village Voice praises Mary Gaitskill's "ludicrous mastery."In two long posts, Blographia Literaria offers a thoughtful alternative to our take on The Kindly OnesBen Okri pioneers the Twitter poem.Two books named Brooklyn enter, one book named Brooklyn leaves. (via)Tucker Carlson sounds a dissenting note on Jon Stewart in the wake of the Jim Cramer takedown.Levi Asher and Scott Esposito discuss litblog economics.At The Second Pass, Jon Fasman calls readers' attention to Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker, echoing John Wray's Year in Reading contention that "Sometimes, though, a work of originality and genius slips inexplicably through the cracks."Wray's Lowboy, meanwhile, got the James Wood treatment at the New Yorker this week.
“We are here to take creative risks and to do the sort of work that commercial broadcasters might be more reluctant to do. But we also have a real responsibility and a requirement to reflect a range of British communities.” Bestill our hearts, the BBC is adapting Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy as its first period drama with a non-white cast, reports The Telegraph. Our own Lydia Kiesling described Seth's epic as "a spectacularly romantic novel, weddings all over," but noted sadly that "it portends falling in love with the man you can marry, in lieu of the one that you can’t."
"Officials in charge of an Australian writers festival were so upset with the address by their keynote speaker, the American novelist Lionel Shriver, that they censored her on the festival website and publicly disavowed her remarks." Dang. (We agree, it was pretty bad – she wore a sombrero for most of her speech.) Writers' conferences: They're intense.
For 50 years, The New York Review of Books has written some of the best headlines in the business. Matthew Howard rounds up every headline. Our favorites include: "Don't Sing Your Crap," "How Unpleasant to Meet Mr. Baudelaire!", "Welcome to New Dork," "It's Your Fault, Henry James," and "Portrait of the Artist as a Paradox."
“What traits make Austen special, and can they be measured with data? Can literary genius be graphed?” The New York Times tackles the question of why, 200 years after her death, Jane Austen is still so popular. (One finding: the author“used intensifying words — like very, much, so — at a higher rate than other writers.") See also: our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.