“’These issues are constantly being brought to the surface in Roman literature, if you have eyes to see them,’ Beard said. ‘And, of course, having eyes to see them—that’s what the trick is.’” Rebecca Mead writes for the New Yorker about Mary Beard, the Cambridge classicist famous for her BBC programs on Roman life and for her handling of online harassment. For more from Beard, check out her interview with the Los Angeles Review of Books about the importance of the classics, and for more about online negativity, head to Salon‘s article on “Why female writers get trolled the most.”
The steady stream of books about and by David Foster Wallace is continuing in 2012. We already noted the forthcoming Conversations with David Foster Wallace, and the calendar now also includes The Legacy of David Foster Wallace from the University of Iowa’s New American Canon series, D.T. Max’s biography Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, and Both Flesh and Not, a collection of as yet uncollected nonfiction by Wallace.
n+1 provides a fascinating study of today’s divisive concept of cultural elitism: “Today, though, it’s the bearers of culture rather than the wielders of power who are taxed with elitism. If the term is applied to powerful people, this is strictly for cultural reasons, as the different reputations of the identically powerful Obama and Bush attest. No one would think to call a foul-mouthed four-star general an elitist, even though he commands an army, any more than the term would cover a private equity titan who hires Rod Stewart to serenade his 60th birthday party.”
On the rediscovery of Georges Perec‘s first novel, Portrait of a Man Known as Il Condottiere, a book “connected by a hundred threads to every part of the literary universe that Perec went on to create—but not like anything else that he wrote,” from the New York Review of Books.
“A few weeks ago, I texted my writing group, ‘All I really want is to be just famous enough to have my own celebrity book club.’ I was kind of kidding. But I kind of wasn’t. Because, like portion-packaged organic snacks delivered to your door, isn’t book club ownership one step closer to having it all?” Laura Briskman on the faux intimacy of celebrity book clubs, as more and more celebrities start their own post Oprah.
Today is Herman Melville‘s birthday. This October, Tin House will be releasing Matt Kish‘s Moby-Dick In Pictures. Kish began illustrating Melville’s masterpiece in 2009 by “creating images based on text selected from every page of the 552-page Signet Classics paperback edition.” You can preview some of the work on the book’s designated Twitter account.
The Syrian publishing industry is but one of the casualties in the nation’s ongoing civil war. “The whole of publishing is not more than 10 percent of what it was in the past,” says Samer al-Kadri who runs Bright Fingers Publishing House in Damascus.
We have finally reached peak Trump. In Hart Seely’s new book Bard of the Deal, three decades of Donald Trump speeches and interviews have been reworked into what the publisher is calling a “treasury of spoken poetry.” One can only hope there’s a poem titled, “Bored With Winning.”