80 years ago Samuel Beckett’s publisher rejected his short story “Echo’s Bones” because it gave him the “jim-jams.” The 13,500-word piece on the afterlife was intended for More Pricks Than Kicks until his editor Charles Prentice claimed, “People will shudder and be puzzled and confused; and they won’t be keen on analysing the shudder.” Fortunately, it will finally be published by Faber and Faber on April 17.
Los Angeles Review of Books managing editor Evan Kindley reviews Michael Szalay’s Hip Figures: A Literary History of the Democratic Party, and says it “reminds us of a time, not long ago, when literary intellectuals set great store by mainstream political parties, and vice versa.”
We’re not supposed to call it a hypertext, but when you’ve got some time, try playing around with Paul La Farge‘s website for Luminous Airplanes – which will eventually grow to encompass three times as much material as the print edition of the book.
Esquire offers up a terrific time sink, “The 7 Greatest Stories in the History of Esquire Magazine.” Included among these gems of long-form journalism, which are all reprinted in full, is Richard Ben Cramer’s “What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?” which appeared on the list of best sports journalism we ran last month.Not long ago, we discussed the books that first stoked our love for reading. The Guardian takes it one step further, asking “What were your favourite books before you could read?“A brief YouTube profile of Annette Gordon-Reed, National Book Award winner for The Hemingses of Monticello.From The Morning News, a slightly insane, moderately epic profile of Dmitri Nabokov, son of Vladimir.Also from The Morning News, a bit about The Chicagoan, the long-lost New Yorker-esque magazine for the Second City, now memorialized in coffee-table book form. If ever any cities (besides New York of course) could be granted New Yorker-like magazines, Chicago and Los Angeles would be deserving. BoingBoing points to some pdf excerpts of the book.Poll watching savant Nate Silver takes execrable rabble-rouser John Ziegler to task for a dubious survey of Obama supporters. Petulance ensues.
Senior New York Times book critic Dwight Garner talked with Prospect Magazine about his career and the literary landscape. Of the new online critical publications, which ones did the interviewer single out for compliments? Answer: the LARB and The Millions. (Aw.)
“At home, I dedicate occasional whole days to reading as if I’m a convalescent. The ideal place for this is the bath, where the body floats free,” Rachel Kushner told The New York Times in a “By the Book” interview. Yet just because her reading style is leisurely doesn’t mean her reading is; she discusses her love of Proust and avoidance of books known for their plots. For more Kushner, read our own interview with her or her 2013 Year in Reading post.
Recommended Listening: an interview with David Foster Wallace recorded the year Infinite Jest was published. Pair with these interviews and thoughts about what we mean when we talk about “rare” recordings.
Recommended Reading: Oliver Burkeman on a new group of optimistic thinkers.