Alex Ross writes for The New Yorker about Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and modern pop culture. Jay-Z and Kanye come up, as does Jonathan Franzen‘s The Corrections (which we’ve written about here and here) and Virginia Woolf‘s The Waves.
Want a book blurb from Margaret Atwood? Expect a poem instead. Atwood has retired from the blurbing business and now declines in rhyming verse. “But now I am aging; my brain is all shrunk,/And my adjective store is depleted;/My hair’s getting stringy, I walk as though drunk;/ As a quotester I’m nigh-on defeated.” Pair with our essays on the blurbing blunder: a history of blurbs, blurbs as publicity stunts, and the fundamental question — to blurb or not to blurb?
It’s that time of year again – our good friends at The Morning News are back with their annual epic, the Tournament of Books! Head over to TMN now to read round 1, which pits award season favorite Lincoln in the Bardo against Samantha Schweblin‘s Fever Dream (and read our own review of George Saunders‘s much-lauded novel here).
In his review of a collection of rejected New Yorker covers titled Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant To See, Jeet Heer details the magazine’s history of straddling the divide between bourgeoisie complacency and bohemian angst.
“Historians, I believe, are dedicated to fighting against the tide of our social amnesia. The reason they continue to write books about the Holocaust, or Appomatox, or the earthquake in Haiti, is to try to help us remember the suffering and the extent of the damage. Some try to humanize, and others turn to abstraction.” Stewart L. Sinclair writes on burying the remnants of disaster, over at Guernica. Pair with his Millions essay on technology and Apple’s operating systems.
Depending on your perspective, this is either the best or the worst pairing of speaker to content there is: Benedict Cumberbatch reading Kafka’s Metamorphosis for the BBC. As always with Cumberbatch, the reading is a nice complement to our own Elizabeth Minkel on Sherlock.
There’s a new trailer out for the book Worn Stories, a collection of pieces about clothing and memory edited by Emily Spivack. The contributor list includes, among others, Heidi Julavits, John Hodgman, Greta Gerwig and Marina Abramović. (h/t The Rumpus)