Putting aside for a moment the racist phrenological roots of the terms “highbrow” and “lowbrow,” here’s an interesting conversation on what the difference between them means for literature now. For a historical take, check out this graphic from a 1949 edition of LIFE magazine, which taught me a real gentleman wears fuzzy tweed, and iceberg lettuce is never in style.
The second issue of Little Brother Magazine (edited by Millions emerita and Toronto resident Emily Keeler) features excellent fiction about scandal-plagued mayor Rob Ford. At The Atlantic Cities, Mark Byrne talks with Emily, who describes herself as “addicted” to the drama surrounding the mayor.
“He taught me that poetry can be anything and with that comes great freedom.” Reminiscences by a former student of the poet John Ashbery upon his death. And for a contemporary take on the question of just what, exactly, poetry is and/or might be, see our recent conversation between Jill Bialosky and Matthew Zapruder.
Patrick Reardon looks at 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die for the Chicago Tribune, and decides he wants to add his own favorites. Check out his eclectic list at the end of the piece. (thanks Steve)Maud mentioned off-hand that she abandons 95% of the books she starts before page 50. Sandra posted that this was “quite a failure rate,” and Maud responds in the comments that in this case she was “pining for a very specific kind of manic reading experience that happens for me maybe ten times a year now rather than every few days, as it did when I was a child.”Dogbert writes a book: “It’s part fake autobiography and part plagiarism” (via H2O)Pinky is about to start an MFA program at Pitt. The reading list looks excellent.Harper Lee will have an item in O of all places. According to the AP story, “a letter for Oprah Winfrey’s magazine on how she became a reader as a child in a rural, Depression-era Alabama town.” It’s for the July “special summer reading issue.”
We’ve been following the raging debate about diversity in the publishing industry, which recently re-triggered when BookExpo America released a speaker list of “29 white people and a cat” (as The Toast summed it up). The panel was rebalanced, but debate around the root issue continues: recent data indicates, for example, that while the US has become more diverse in population, the number of multicultural childrens’ books has remained flat under 10 percent for two decades. Follow the continuing debate on Twitter hashtags like #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #DiverseCanLit, or look to this helpful round-up of blogs and articles at BookRiot.
On Friday, I wrote about the British writer William Boyd, whose new play, Longing, debuted last week at London’s Hampstead Theatre. The play is based on two of Chekhov’s short stories, one of which (according to Boyd’s new article in The Guardian) sheds light on the great author’s love life. Apparently the young Anton had “at least two dozen” affairs.