In mid-January, ten days after moving to California, Geoff Dyer suffered a stroke while throwing away trash in his new home. At the hospital, he recovered quickly, but the incident left him “conscious that the ground could open Adairishly beneath my feet at any moment.” In the LRB, he writes about the experience. (Related: Dyer wrote two Year in Reading entries for The Millions.)
“REPORTER: You’ve reportedly conveyed to Judge Garland that if he comes knocking on your office door he’ll be wasting his time. But would you deign to meet with him somewhere off the grounds of the U.S. Capitol? Say, at a Starbucks? BARTLEBY: I would prefer not to.” This Bartleby, the Senator: A Story of Merrick Garland (not to be confused with the Bartleby, the Scrivener).
“We have a customer who eats Bibles. She’s very nice, but she will walk up to a section, rip out a page, and eat it. She much prefers Catholic versions—she won’t touch King James Bibles.” This interview with the owner of Brattle Book Shop in Boston illustrates the peculiar idiosyncrasies of daily bookstore life. For all you romantics out there, here is a love letter to the brick-and-mortar bookstore.
Recently, a Czech linguist named Jakob Murian came up with an estimate of the number of languages your average European speaks. The study is complicated, however, by the question of how much you need to know to really understand a given language. At the LRB’s blog, Glen Newey asks: are you fluent when you can order a beer, or when you can translate Virgil? Pair with: Abigail Rasminsky on learning to speak German.
Over at the Slate Book Review, Laura Miller gives Bill O’Reilly’s Killing series a fair shake. From Jesus to Reagan, O’Reilly and his cowriter Martin Dugard have killed off five famous historical “Great Men.” Despite claims of some dubious assertions having been made throughout the series, the books themselves have enjoyed tremendous commercial success.
Recommended reading: Michael Booth writes for The Paris Review about the work of Danish author Aksel Sandemose and the “enduring mark on the national character” his satirical Jante Law has left.