Over the course of a half-century, Vladimir Nabokov wrote hundreds of letters to his wife Vera, which are being published in book form this week for the first time. Among other things, they reveal the absurd pet names he invented for her (such as Goosykins and Monkeykins) and display Nabokov musing over whether or not to borrow a friend’s castle for the summer. Also worth reading: our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
There are plenty of good reasons to read classic literature, but Mary Beard reminds us that there's a different kind of classic that's worth revisiting and questioning. "You do the ancient world much greater service if you keep arguing with them.”
In 1969, Random House’s Book of the Month Club offered members an edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Salvador Dalí. (You can view the full collection here.) Forty-three years later, the publisher had a mail delivery experience that was almost equally surreal.
Buzzfeed kicked up a storm on Thursday when its first-ever Buzzfeed Books editor, Isaac Fitzgerald, told Poynter that the site’s new vertical won’t publish negative reviews. Invoking the “Bambi rule," Fitzgerald argued that he sees no point “[wasting] breath talking smack about something.” At The Atlantic Wire, Eric Levenson published a counterpoint, while Alexanda Petri poked fun at Fitzgerald in the WaPo.
Is Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life a Great American Gay Novel? According to Garth Greenwell, the book -- which came out in March -- is one of the most ambitious gay novels to come out in years. At The Atlantic, he makes a case that the book is a classic of its kind. You could also read Christopher Richards on Frank O’Hara’s lessons for gay men.
"Though statements have been issued over the years, no one has ever provided full disclosure of the alleged 1974 government experiment called OPERATION EMU (Experimental Mitigated Universe) during which an entire Hollywood film crew, contracted by the government, disappeared in a remote section of Nevada." Is this Web site a mysterious government coverup of the ravings of a lunatic? Neither. It's the marketing campaign of a writer shopping his manuscript. (thanks, R.J.)The University of Nebraska Press has a blog. They've been plugging away at the blog since January, but I hadn't seen it until today, when I got an email about it.New issues of The Virginia Quarterly Review and Narrative Magazine are out.