Marina Warner reviews the “enigmatic and brief” and somewhat disturbing “The Professor and the Siren” for The Paris Review. As luck would have it, our own Sonya Chung reviewed the same story for The Millions.
Over at Salon, Joel Whitney explains how The Paris Review worked with the CIA and “served, in part, as a covert international weapon of soft power.” While the possibility is certainly tantalizing, it's necessary to read Whitney's article alongside Carolyn Kellogg's piece in the LA Times, which notes how "the threads of the article ... become unsupportably tenuous" as it carries on.
"I didn’t know who William Kelley was when I found that book but, like millions of Americans, I knew a term he is credited with first committing to print. 'If You’re Woke, You Dig It' read the headline of a 1962 Op-Ed that Kelley published in the New York Times, in which he pointed out that much of what passed for “beatnik” slang (“dig,” “chick,” “cool”) originated with African-Americans." Are you familiar with William Kelley? Let Kathryn Schulz be your guide on this historical literary adventure as she discovers an immensely influential writer whom most of us have never heard mentioned.
Elizabeth Kostova's follow-up to The Historian is out today. The Swan Thieves was one of our "Most Anticipated" books. Also out today is Day out of Days, a collection of stories by Sam Shepard, and Game Change, an account of the 2008 presidential race from John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, a pair of big name political reporters.
"Millennials are so frequently hyped as the first digital generation that people tend to forget that we were raised first and foremost with books. TV and the Internet may have shaped our identities, but so did old-fashioned, printed stories." Everybody is tired of the word "millennial," but this piece makes some great points about Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad series and how it taught children to understand and appreciate their individuality.
Flavorwire has compiled a list of the best literary criticism of the year, ranging from Rebecca Solnit on Lolita to Elena Ferrante on literary publicity. Also check out this year’s most notable Millions pieces, from our star-studded Year in Reading to a literary reader for Lent.