Jeff Bezos married a novelist, “expressed a passionate devotion to books”, and may be the one person mild-mannered indie bookshop owners hate more than any other. How’d that happen? After perusing a short history from the New York Review of Books, see for yourself with our vintage news announcements on Amazon’s innovations in pay-per-page pricing, now-old products like the Kindle, and its industry-changing acquisitions of The Washington Post and the English language.
In an excerpt of Out of Time, a new book on “the pleasures and perils of ageing,” author Lynne Segal makes a case that many iconic male writers — among them Philip Roth, John Updike and Martin Amis — display in their works a belief that the slow loss of virility is one of the most tragic effects of growing older for men. Citing passages from Toward the End of Time and Portnoy’s Complaint, she finds evidence that these writers’ depictions of masculinity reveal “obdurate social hierarchies of gender and ageing.” (Related: Keith Meatto on advice you can glean from Philip Roth’s work.)
By now the overlap between writers and drug addicts is pretty well-known, but it wasn’t so well-known back when Thomas De Quincey wrote Confessions of an English Opium Eater. In the essay, De Quincey admitted that not only was he addicted to opium, he suspected he’d ingested more of the substance than any other man save Coleridge. (Incidentally, we reviewed a novel by Year in Reading alumnus Jeet Thayil that largely took place in an opium den.)
Get your Bloomsday fix with our James Joyce quiz. Or you can celebrate with Emily M. Keeler, The Atlantic, a BBC dramatization, and Colm Tóibín. You can also read an excerpt from Ulysses over at Berfrois. Plus there’s a ‘Ulysses Seen‘ smartphone app (which is viewable online).
The New York Times Book Review commissioned a work of fiction about the election from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She chose to write about Melania Trump. If you can handle more Trump, check out Greg Chase’s portrait of a Trump supporter, based on Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury.
“An ideal essay is hard to define, but easy to point to. An ideal essay mines the “I” in efforts of high exposition. It is driven by a need to testify or witness, and demands the same of its reader. It is a glimpse of something uncomfortably recognizable, a requiem for the quotidian, a look over the newly-gilded edge.” Samantha Tucker Iacovetto writes about “Defining the Ideal Essay” for Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog