Recommended Reading: “When Literature Was Dangerous,” a history of censorship and the development of a culture “in which literature lacks urgency” and, perhaps, significance.
George Saunders is taking up residence at the Powell’s Blog this week as he embarks on a book tour promoting his latest (released today), The Braindead Megaphone. To my knowledge, it is Saunders’ first foray into blogging, a format we discussed nearly two years ago (scroll down). His concern: “I worry about how much I would have to pay myself to keep my blog supplied with content. My fear is that, knowing I was working for myself, I would start cheating myself, only submitting my worst pieces, then get into a labor dispute with myself and never speak to me again.” Hopefully, his fears aren’t realized.A new issue of Scott Esposito’s terrific Quarterly Conversation has arrived. It features, among several notable contributors, Garth, who “sorts out literary feuds, dissects James Wood’s essay against Don DeLillo’s 832-page opus Underworld, and argues that this book actually evolves the novel forward.”Emdashes has the schedule for this year’s New Yorker Festival. It looks fantastic as usual. I should really go sometime.
Our friend “Tom” finds that music soothes the savage vampire.Joseph O’Neill explores the “wholesome… misanthropy” of Flannery O’Connor.The Nation offers up a depressing assessment of the book business: “It is a confused, confusing and very fluid situation, and no one can predict how books and readers will survive.””Why Donald Duck Is the Jerry Lewis of Germany“NPR talks to the author of the just published biography, Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life.Daniel Green launches new online journal Critical Distance.”Will Philadelphia be the place where the American newspaper dies?” (via)The Complete Review considers Bolaño’s Amulet.
“We’re going to prove that I can sell more books than Amazon,” Stephen Colbert announced during his show this week. And he’s going to do it by encouraging his audience to purchase California, the new novel by Millions staffer Edan Lepucki. On his website, Colbert has partnered with beloved Portland-based indie Powell’s Books to offer not just Edan’s novel, but also a downloadable pack [PDF] of stickers proudly proclaiming “I DIDN’T BUY IT ON AMAZON.” (For your part, you can also order the book on Barnes and Noble, Word Brooklyn, or your local bookstore and the stickers will still apply.) (Bonus: You can read the first chapter of the book over here.)
Congratulations are in order for Vanessa Veselka: PEN American has awarded her debut novel Zazen the Robert W. Bingham Prize. I first heard about the novel last year, from what was then the brand-spanking-new LARB, though this Minnesota Public Radio profile of Veselka is also a great way to get acquainted with her exciting talents.
The National Rifle Association is featuring a series of reimagined fairy tales on their website. The only difference? Way more guns. In the debut story, Hansel and Gretel don’t bemoan their lack of food since they had been taught from birth to hunt with guns for sustenance. No, it’s not yet April Fools’ Day.