“The Time I Spent On A Commercial Whaling Ship Totally Changed My Perspective On The World,” a blogger named Ishmael writes, on the sister blog to The Onion. (But I like these titles better.)
“The University of Bologna in Italy has found what it says may be the oldest complete scroll of Judaism's most important text, the Torah.”
Kevin Barry has won the lucrative €100,000 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his first novel City of Bohane, capably reviewed in these pages over a year ago by Bill Morris (whose drawing of Barry illustrates the piece). You can also relive this year's massive longlist and quirky shortlist.
Has Joan Didion become "the Ultimate Literary Celebrity"? In an article for the New Republic Laura Marsh says "yes," and then explains how that happened. Marsh's efforts pair well with Franklin Strong's recent Millions essay on "The Manliness of Joan Didion," Joan Didion being a literary figure who easily adapts to any description.
Legendary jazz musician and composer Cal Massey receded from active performance in the 1950s in order to concentrate on composition. His works went on to be recorded by John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and many other greats. To honor his indelible mark on jazz music and African-American culture, Fred Ho and Ben Barson will present a series of concerts in Harlem's Red Rooster restaurant. Barson also wrote a lengthy introduction to Massey's life and legacy.
In the late fifties, an old flame of Samuel Beckett, Ethna MacCarthy, fell ill and died of throat cancer in Dublin. Around this time, female voices began to enter Beckett’s work, which up until that point had featured almost exclusively male characters. Was there a connection? In a review of a new edition of Beckett’s letters, Fintan O’Toole suggests that there was. You could also read Elizabeth Winkler on the author’s bilingual oeuvre.