“Whenever I tried to invent a character or a situation, I felt a stab of guilt. I could hear my teacher’s quavering voice saying, Write what you know! Why had she insisted on this so vociferously?” Writing class mantras are easy to impart but they are also easily misinterpreted. A.X. Ahmad, author of The Last Taxi Ride and The Caretaker, learns this truth the hard way as he tries to become a writer following a personal upheaval. Pair with Ahmad’s Millions essay on “The Thriller, Reinvented.”
Google has added a Worldcat search to Google Books, allowing readers to look for books in their local libraries as well as on online bookstore sites. (via)From the Department of Clever Book Promotions: Random House is using a text-based (or interactive fiction) game to promote the release of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist.Steven Johnson’s forthcoming book The Ghost Map, “a thrilling historical account of the worst cholera outbreak in Victorian London,” sounds pretty terrific. To whet the appetite, he provides a brief list of the “best” plague books to the Wall Street Journal. (via).Just in time for Banned Books Week, check out some very cool banned books jewelry.
The Brooklyn Rail‘s InTranslation section has launched a new poetry series, 100 Refutations. Created by author and translator Lina M. Ferreira C.-V., the series will feature a daily poem “from one of the countries recently denigrated by the president of the United States.” Pair with: The Millions’ Surviving Trump column.
At the Morgan Library in NYC: “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen‘s Life and Legacy.” Read the NY Times review of the show here. And, if your hankering for eighteenth and early nineteenth century English art isn’t sated by the Austen, the Morgan is also offering “William Blake‘s World: ‘A New Heaven Is Begun'”.
The 80th birthday of Philip Roth inspires a festschrift of sorts over at New York Magazine, with Sam Lipsyte, Kathryn Schulz, James Franco (natch), and others weighing in on Roth’s Best Book and other vexed questions. (For the record, it’s Sabbath’s Theater.)
Need some great book recs for the summer? Want to hear them from the likes of Emma Straub and our own C. Max Magee? Then mark your calendars for June 18th, when Symphony Space and The Millions are hosting a summer edition of Thalia Book Club. (If you’re interested, get your tickets now — they could easily sell out quickly.)
Can you hear me, Major Tom? The world lost one of the good ones today in David Bowie; celebrate his enormous contributions to art as we know it and take a look at this list of Bowie’s 100 essential books which includes everyone from Camille Paglia to Anthony Burgess. Bonus: here’s a link to Bowie singing “Changes” in what became his final live performance.
Thanks to Stephen Elliot‘s Letters in the Mail project, LARB senior editor Matthew Specktor finds himself admiring the gorgeous handwriting of strangers, feeling tickled and gobsmacked, and reflecting on letter writing as something “beautifully useless to do.”