The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder “what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”
The New Yorker's book blog continues to host "Questioningly," a so-called Twitter game show. The most recent installment featured the imagined Facebook status updates of literary figures, and was hosted by Ben Greenman. Who, might I add, is on a roll these days over at McSweeney's Internet Tendency too.
I've loved old sci-fi B-movies forever, and a staggering number of my childhood memories involve Ray Harryhausen. For this reason, I'm really geeking out over The New Yorker’s entire science fiction issue, but in particular this piece by Colson Whitehead deserves your time.
Originally, the film 2001: A Space Odyssey included more narration by co-writer Arthur C. Clarke, whose short story "The Sentinel" was the basis for Stanley Kubrick's script. At the last minute, Kubrick decided to cut them out, which led to Clarke leaving the US premiere halfway through. In a piece for The New Statesman an old friend of Clarke's explores his side of the story. You could also read Ted Gioia on a weirdly predictive '60s sci-fi novel.
"i need more sprawling post-modern novels NOW!" is the plea at Ask MetaFilter.Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library has thousands of images from their collection online. It's just like being in the dusty stacks.I've been enjoying emdashes lately. It's a blog about my favorite magazine.
Six novelists discuss their second-favorite art forms (after writing, of course). Before you click, see if you can guess which one of these folks is most interested in opera: Kazuo Ishiguro, Lavinia Greenlaw, John Lanchester, Alan Werner, Sarah Hall and Colm Tóibín.