Just in case you didn’t know, Mallory Ortberg gives you ways to tell if you’re in a Hemingway novel at The Toast. “Everyone you know respects you. This disgusts you.”
In TNR, Ruth Franklin attempts to debunk the “strangely antiquated definition of American writing” posited in Dalkey’s Best European Fiction anthology. (via)
“After years of reading, teaching, and writing about the book, though, I’ve come to believe that… our understanding of what is comic and what is serious in Huck Finn says more about America in the last century than America in the time Twain wrote the book.” Andrew Levy writes for Salon about childhood, race, and “dedicated amnesia” in Mark Twain‘s controversial classic.
In a big week for new releases, we have Lev Grossman’s The Magician King, the sequel to his blockbuster debut The Magicians; Nicholson Baker’s House of Holes, reviewed here today; another new Geoff Dyer book, The Missing of the Somme; DBC Pierre’s Lights Out in Wonderland; and Kevin Wilson’s debut novel The Family Fang (which one blurber calls The Royal Tenenbaums meets Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf). Four of the five books above, incidentally, were featured in our big second-half preview. And out in a paperback this week are a pair of award winners: Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies and David Grossman’s To the End of the Land.
Last week, JK Rowling announced that, midway through writing the Harry Potter series, she nearly killed off Ron Weasley “out of spite.” Ron isn’t the first supporting character to narrowly avoid death in an author’s rough draft. The Awl illustrates some of literature’s other close calls with death.
Remember when Chipotle started publishing famous authors like Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and Neil Gaiman on their cups and burrito-toting bags? Well, now’s your chance to join them. The fast-food chain is holding a contest for student writers, and the prizewinning responses to the prompt “write about a time when food created a memory” will be printed on those same cups and brown paper bags across the country. Oh, and there’s a $20,000 scholarship, too.
The Tournament of Books rolls along with a few first round upsets (Congratulations, Sarvas!), but the highlight thus far might be a glimpse of Junot Díaz’s one-of-kind victor’s shirt from last year.Meanwhile, Stop Smiling offers up a Díaz interview.John Leonard’s son compiles a concordance to his father’s vigorous criticism, in which “thug,” “libidinal,” and “linoleum” make the top 10.The breathless inventorying of Roberto Bolaño’s posthumous papers continues.Our friend Eliza Barclay reports from the Andes, finding little cause for optimism.Victor Lavalle becomes the most recent essayist spurred to eloquence by the Obama inauguration.Also from the Atlantic, Hitchens and Marx: On again?James Wood and Claire Messud get grilled – sort of – by The Harvard Crimson: he’s the chef, she does laundry.The people who put William Kristol on payroll show themselves capable of good judgment. Congratulations, Ross Douthat!Wikipedia find of the week: beghilos (aka calculator spelling)Audrey Niffeneger is not feeling the recession. The NYT says $5 mil for The Time Traveler’s Wife follow-up.NPR explores the doodles of powerful people.CAAF spends some time with the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus and pauses on “limn.”Clay Shirky elucidates, perhaps better than most media pundits have, why newspapers need to be “thinking the unthinkable.”