One Siberian city is offering free subway rides to passengers who can recite “at least two verses from any poem by Alexander Pushkin.” The obvious corollary would be NJ Transit providing free service to passengers capable of singing “Born to Run” in its entirety.
Over at the Slate Book Review, Laura Miller gives Bill O’Reilly’s Killing series a fair shake. From Jesus to Reagan, O’Reilly and his cowriter Martin Dugard have killed off five famous historical “Great Men.” Despite claims of some dubious assertions having been made throughout the series, the books themselves have enjoyed tremendous commercial success.
"You’ll engage with your advisor in a free-form dialogue about essential skills such as plotting your next career, pacing your financial ruin, structuring TV binge-watching during optimal writing hours, and characterizing all of this as 'learning how to fail.'" Hey, this new low-competency MFA from the fictitious Half Mast College sounds pretty great. Here's our own Hannah Gersen on why she has foregone the MFA route entirely.
Are you embarrassed about your lack of literary inheritance? You're not alone. Here's a great piece by Annie Liontas at The New York Times on those first, lonely forays into the literary world: "But I see my experience as an immigrant into the world of letters as a blessing. Being an outsider is the origin of my imagination; it gives me the constant consciousness that my perspective is only one of many and that there are myriad ways of being in the world. It grants me the gift of being attuned to the voices in the room, as well as all of those shut out of it."
Late November brings work of another favorite Madrileño to the forefront. The final book of Javier Marías's Your Face Tomorrow trilogy, Poison, Shadow, and Farewell, will be published at the end of the month by New Directions. The incomparable Marias will make two New York appearances, a reading at the 92nd St Y (with Paul Auster) and a conversation with Paul Holdengräber at the New York Public Library.
New this week: Paul Auster's latest, Sunset Park; a new collection of short stories from Stephen King called Full Dark, No Stars; The Memory Hole, a memoir by the historian Tony Judt who recently died from ALS (the essays collected here appeared in recent months in the New York Review of Books); and the latest obligatory obfuscatory presidential memoir Decision Points.