Broke New York writers – by which we mean, New York writers – take note: the city’s Department of Housing is allotting a small number of $1,022 two-bedroom apartments to working artists through a convenient online application. (If that’s too rich for your blood, though, we’ve also noted previously that Write a House is giving away free houses to writers in Detroit.)
Parentheses aren’t just the mark of a lazy or verbose writer. They can also bracket personal pain in a narrative. At The New York Review of Books, Christopher Benfey explores the power of the parenthetical detail, such as Lolita‘s “My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three.” Pair with: Vulture’s “The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature.”
This week, New Directions offers up a collection that may offer some context to the Roberto Bolaño oeuvre. As the catalog copy suggests, “Between Parentheses collects most of the newspaper columns and articles Bolaño wrote during the last five years of his life, as well as the texts of some of his speeches and talks and a few scattered prologues.” Also out: Library of America does Kurt Vonnegut with Novels & Stories, 1963-1973; The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, a political tome by playwright David Mamet; and Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman, the scientist and polymath who was recently profiled in the New Yorker.
Disappointed by how few of the dozens of official book cover designs of Nabokov’s Lolita “correspond thematically to the novel,” blog Venus febriculosa is holding a book cover design contest (pdf) to create a new cover for Lolita and is awarding a $350 prize. (Thx, John)
Add this to the roster of great literary takedowns. Apparently Evelyn Waugh once wrote the following about Proust: “Nobody told me he was a mental defective. He had no sense of time.” (This stands in stark contrast with the views of Aleksandar Hemon, who wrote in a recent Year in Reading piece that Swann’s Way is “one of those miraculous books that gets better with every re-reading.”)
Three Percent is organizing a “World Cup of Literature” to coincide with the international soccer tournament’s June 12th beginning. The rules are simple: literature from each of the 32 countries in the actual World Cup will be put into a “32-book knock-out tournament,” and “each ‘match’ will pit two books against one another and will be judged by one of … fifteen illustrious judges.” Who’s your early favorite? (Bonus: “What happened when 10 European poets were asked to portray their home country in verse ahead of the European elections?”)