George Perec‘s I Remember, a series of aphoristic memories modeled after Joe Brainard’s volume of the same name, are finally making their way into English translation. The Paris Review has an excerpt. “I remember that Stendhal liked spinach… I remember that one of the first decisions that de Gaulle took on coming to power was to abolish the belt worn with jackets in the military.”
When our own Mark O’Connell reviewed Edouard Levé’s Autoportrait, he wrote that the book compels you to keep reading because “the more Levé says, the more facts he sets down, the more you realize he hasn’t said.” But what if at the end, you’re meant to reread the book, too? Over at Words Without Borders, Jan Steyn says “the only way to get a better idea of how [these sentences] fit together is to keep reading, and reading, until the end, and then perhaps to read the book again.”
A group at NYU’s journalism school has named “The Top Ten Works of Journalism of the Decade in the United States.” Four of these are books: Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family, Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side, and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed.
Recommended Reading: Louise Erdrich’s new short story in The New Yorker, “The Big Cat,” which is about snoring among other things. “The women in my wife’s family all snored, and when we visited for the holidays every winter I got no sleep.” Deborah Treisman also interviewed Erdrich about the story. “I like the idea that this story reads like a fairy tale, but there is no moral at all, unless it’s Beware of Snoring Cats. Nothing I write ever has a moral.”
With Naipaul and Theroux making nice, the Times asks Christopher Hitchens what makes for a good literary feud these days: “A really first-rate bust-up must transcend the limits of ‘an entertaining side show’ and involve playing for high moral and intellectual stakes”
The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, the first book published in English, recently sold at auction for almost 2 million dollars.
Looking for more thoughts on My Life in Middlemarch to supplement today’s interview? At Salon, Laura Miller reviews Rebecca Mead’s book, which she calls a “moving demonstration” of Middlemarch’s power. (You could also read Adelle Waldman’s Year in Reading piece about the novel.)