Recommended Reading: “Three Things I Have Never Told Anyone,” an essay on love, blue globes and things unsaid by Ayşe Papatya Bucak.
It’s a big week for new books. Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke is now out, as is Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy, Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge, and The Funny Man by John Warner, who recently appeared in these pages. Philip Roth’s American Trilogy is getting the Library of America treatment. (Capsule previews of all of the preceding titles are available here, incidentally). New in non-fiction is Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin. And out in paperback: none other than Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.
In the Boston Review, Jess Row wades – slowly, interestingly, not always coherently – into the perpetually roiling waters of Theory of the Novel, taking on the canon wars, realism vs. the avant-garde, etc. Is it really “a safe bet that your average well-informed critic today has never read a single work of criticism by a writer of color?” Probably not, even granting Row’s exception. But possibly worth arguing about. If you like that sort of thing.
Inua Ellams wrote a poem entitled “Portrait of Prometheus as a Basketball Player” in which he imagined “the fire stolen from the gods to be shaped as a basketball, and Prometheus dunking light into the world.” [Note: Ctrl + F for “Portrait of Prometheus” at this link to read the poem.] Over at Magma, Ellams discusses “the process of composing a poem, as a coach might stitch a [basketball] team together.” Perhaps all of this explains Patricia Lockwood’s interest in Shaquille O’Neal?
Experience “THE POWER OF BOOKS“You know those annoying puzzles where you type in the letters so the computer knows you’re not a computer creating a fake account or sending spam? A group from Carnegie Mellon is using these “Captchas” to help digitize books. ReCaptcha is a special type of Captcha that displays words that book digitization software is having trouble deciphering. So, by letting the computer know you’re not a computer, you can help some other computers digitize our books.I missed Junot Diaz’s appearance at the Free Library of Philadelphia where he read from his new novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, but Season Evans was there.