“Werner isn’t surprised to pass the entrance exams easily. He’s more nonplused to find his head measured with calipers and his hair whiter than any of the 60-odd shades of blond on the examiners’ charts. It goes without saying that his eyes are also rated for their shade of blue.” Janet Maslin reviews Anthony Doerr’s new novel.
What inspired Samuel Clemens to change his name to Mark Twain? Was it a Mississippi riverboat captain? Did he earn it by “drinking at a one-bit saloon in Virginia City, Nevada?” Or, as rare book dealer Kevin Mac Donnell now alleges in the new issue of Mark Twain Journal, did the author find his pseudonym in a popular humor journal?
Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times Book Review, talks to Noah Charney about his life, his work, and his taste in books. Answers are typical but insightful, with one incredibly colorful exception: Tanenhaus’s ideal workplace is bizarre. (Hint: The atmosphere falls somewhere between a nuclear fallout shelter and the kind of place you would keep a hostage and it’s nothing like where we write.)
“[H]e is a true, unrepentant nerd, who has only ever been looking for his people.” Buzzfeed‘s Doree Shafrir talks with Michael Chabon (and his wife, the writer Ayelet Waldman) about being a good literary citizen, his life in letters, and his new “fictional memoir” Moonglow.
Apocalyptic literature is nothing new, but it may, according to Grayson Clary, be entering a new era. In Bookforum, he argues that Benjamin Percy’s The Dead Lands ushers the genre into its mannerist phase. Sample quote: “The Dead Lands is really the stripped, buffed skeleton of a road story, set up to show off—attractively—an enormous quantity of decorating tropes.” You could also read our interview with Percy.
During the riots in Baltimore following Freddie Gray’s death, the city’s chief librarian insisted her neighborhood branch remain open. Yesterday that librarian, Dr. Carla D. Hayden, was sworn in as the 14th librarian of Congress, the first woman and African-American to hold the position. We wonder what Dr. Hayden might make of our own Jacob Lambert‘s “Open Letter to the Person Who Wiped Boogers on My Library Book.”
There’s a reason Hemingway and Fitzgerald are usually thought of as being opposites on the masculinity spectrum. Hemingway, he of the grand works about boxing and bullfighting, is perhaps the patron saint of literary manhood, while Fitzgerald was often the definition of refinement. Yet their actual identities were a little more complicated than our images of them suggest. At The Paris Review Daily, a look at how they were thought of as “real men” — or not.