Recommended Listening: The Missouri Review’s new weekly podcast, Soundbooth, which will feature interviews and readings with authors, editors, agents, and more. The first episode is a conversation between editor in chief Speer Morgan and marketing director Kris Somerville on the research they do for the journal’s feature section. You can subscribe here.
Mark McGurl author of the book that got everyone talking about MFA programs, The Program Era, mounts a spirited defense against Elif Batuman’s much discussed review of the book. Among his ripostes: “One can be all for the deflation of liberal pieties without being a gleeful ignoramus about it, as though literary journalism needs its own Ann Coulter.” Zing!
Few people have a stranger life story than Jillian Lauren. A former party girl of a royal harem in Brunei, she overcame a heroin addiction to become, among other things, a writer with two memoirs to her name. At The Nervous Breakdown, she talks about her latest book, her religious faith and her adopted Ethiopian son.
Last Friday marked the feast day of Francis de Sales, better known as the patron saint of writers and journalists. The saint, who lived in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, got his title thanks to his propensity for using flyers and pamphlets to convert people to Catholicism. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Piepenbring reads the saint’s most famous work, Introduction to the Devout Life.
“To read something before it is accessible to all is both a privilege and an unfair advantage.” Je Banach’s notes on keeping the secrets of the books she writes about (e.g., Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage) are thoughtful, poignant, and tantalizingly spoiler-free.
From the person who brought you Infinite Boston comes Infinite Atlas, an interactive map of the places that make up Infinite Jest, and, for the truely devoted, the Infinite Map, a framable print version of that atlas. Page-Turner offers an extended preview of D.T. Max’s Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story. Maria Popova highlights a few of the signature DFW words that he adopted from his mother.
The best way to celebrate May Day? Read Tennyson‘s “The May Queen,” become “Romance Incarnate.”
Garth, Ben, Andrew and Max appear in today’s “Digest” at The Morning News. The topic is movies based on books. Also at TMN: the Tournament of Books is underway.Readers with an interest in sales figures for books and their drawbacks should take a look at the comments of our follow-up post on the Beautiful Children free book promotion. Several anonymous commenters, whom one suspects are probably industry insiders, have shared their insights.A quick but interesting interview with Paul Theroux. This summer, Theroux’s Ghost Train to the Eastern Star will be published. In it, he retraces his path from The Great Railway Bazaar thirty years ago. (via)The National Book Critics Circle Award winners have been announced. In the fiction category, Junot Díaz took home the prize for The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. Díaz was a part of our Year in Reading in December.The finalists have been announced for the Kiriyama Prize, which recognizes books that “relate in some significant way to the Pacific Rim or South Asia, to a particular culture or part(s) of these regions, or to people from these regions.” Among them is I Love Dollars by Zhu Wen, which was reviewed here by Ben, from which a blurb was used on the Kiriyama Prize site.The Stranger reminds us of our bookselling days, chasing those damn book thieves down the street.The Observer reports on two new bylines arriving at the New Yorker, Kelefa Sanneh and Ariel Levy of the New York Times and New York respectively. (via)Literary frauds are all over the news again, and the LA Times serves up a delightful accounting of hoaxers going all the way back to the 1700s. (via)We are all stereotypical readers: “The British buy books by television personalities, Americans are obsessed with self-improvement, French choices are more highbrow, the Germans like holidays while the Japanese have more eclectic tastes.” (via)A new issue of The Quarterly Conversation is out. Among the offerings: over- and underrated books and Sam J. Miller’s essay positing that short stories are far from dead, as some big names would have you think.Apple head honcho Steve Jobs told the New York Times in January that “people don’t read anymore.” The Raleigh Quarerly took umbrage and is now holding a contest that asks for submissions “featuring a main character named, uh, Steve, who reads something that transforms his life.”
Idris Elba, Sean Penn and Javier Bardem have signed on to star in a film adaptation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s novel, The Prone Gunman. According to Christian Blauvelt of Hollywood.com, “Elba will be playing a cloak-and-dagger agent named Dupont who tangles with Sean Penn, who also plays an agent for a clandestine operations outfit who is betrayed by his organization, forcing him on the run across Europe.”