What do you think gets fact-checked the most rigorously: newspaper articles, magazine stories, or books? If you guessed books, you’d be surprised to know that they are rarely, if ever, fact-checked. At The Atlantic, Kate Newman questions why we have so much faith in books’ accuracy but why publishers don’t bother.
“Their staff is always sharp, and they seem to cover politics more robustly now. But through the 1960s there were so many political trends they ignored, pretending to be focused on craft and art for art’s sake.” An interview with Joel Whitney about his forthcoming book Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers, which tells the story of how the intelligence agency helped found The Paris Review. With this backstory in mind, you may read the journal’s author interviews in an entirely new way.
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'”.
On the New Yorker’s Elements blog, our own Mark O’Connell writes about Cloak, a new app which lets you avoid people you don’t want to bump into by accident. Despite the fact that Mark can see himself using the app, he finds it “ultimately troubling,” in large part because it strikes him as “such a lonely thing to have achieved through technological control of our social environments.” (Speaking of apps, have you read Mark’s epic e-book?)
Tolstoy has a new book out. No, not that Tolstoy — Sofiya Tolstoy, wife of Leo Nikolayevich. Her long-lost novella, which languished for years in the Tolstoy Museum in Moscow, has finally been published, as part of an expanded edition of her husband’s The Kreutzer Sonata. At Slate, Ron Rosenbaum praises her story, calling it “graceful, emotionally intuitive and heartbreaking.” Related: 8 experts on whether Leo Tolstoy is better than Dostoevsky.
The thing about Dave Chappelle, writes Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah in her marvelous essay on the comedian’s family history, the success of Chappelle’s Show, and how the two informed his opinions on race, “is that he was suddenly vaulted into the awkward position of being the world’s most famous interlocutor in a conversation about race—the one conversation no one likes having.” In light of his recent heckling in Connecticut, as well as the continued misinterpretation of his comedy, “it’s easy to understand why Chappelle was done with being misread, tired of explaining, [and so he] finished talking.”
Nell Zink, whose second novel comes out next week, has one of the lit world’s more unusual origin stories. An expat in Germany, she wrote her first novel in three weeks, after striking up a friendship over email with Jonathan Franzen. In the latest New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz details her story in full. You could also read Emily Gould’s recommendation of her work for Year in Reading.