“For obit writers, the whole world is necessarily divided into the dead and the pre-dead. That’s all there is.” The Paris Review interviews Margalit Fox, a senior writer for The New York Times, on the complicated art of obituaries.
Trader Joe’s, circa 1877: “It’s always the same complaint: ‘Joe, you don’t have any of the essential items that every other trading post has. Why don’t you have saddles? Or gunpowder? Or basic tools?’ Because I have soy chorizo, that’s why! Because I have chocolate-covered peanut-butter-filled pretzels!”
“Life is worth less than a line of Baudelaire’s poetry.” These two lyric essays by Chen Li over at Asymptote Journal are economical and well-worth the read. Though Chen Li is from Taiwan, he writes in Chinese; this syllabus of Chinese writing and the “New China” from Casey Walker at The Millions pairs quite nicely.
Haruki Murakami’s latest (which we reviewed) is out this week, as is a new edition of Augustus, the 1973 National Book Award winner by Stoner author John Williams. Also out: Friendswood by Rene Steinke; The Lotus and the Storm by Lan Cao; Before, During, After by Richard Bausch; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan; and Your Face In Mine by Jess Row (which I wrote about for our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview).
The Guardian reports that the British Library has made its archive of world and traditional music available online. And it's free for everyone. What might you hear? "There are Geordies banging spoons, Tawang lamas blowing conch shell trumpets and Tongan tribesman playing nose flutes. And then there is the Assamese woodworm feasting on a window frame in the dead of night." You might also check out the British Museum's free online image database. Here you'll find thousands of images of paintings, etchings, drawings, and artifacts from every country and era of human history, easily searchable by era, country, artist, or subject. In using the database for dissertation research, I also found copyright permissions relatively easy to acquire.
The New York Times interviewed Colum McCann about what and who he's reading, and if you're looking for a book recommendation this piece is full of them. For more from McCann, be sure to check out his Year in Reading, our review of his novel TransAtlantic, and this reading of his soccer poem.