Recommended Reading: Tim Parks on books and cultural dialogue.
The true story of the Whaleship Essex – which was deftly recounted in Nathaniel Philbrick’s 2000 book In the Heart of the Sea – will soon be adapted into a 90-minute documentary for the BBC. As avid whale watchers already know, the plight of the Essex is what ultimately inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick. You can get an overview of the disaster at Melville House’s blog, Moby Lives. (How appropriate!)
The Tournament of Books rolls along with a few first round upsets (Congratulations, Sarvas!), but the highlight thus far might be a glimpse of Junot Díaz's one-of-kind victor's shirt from last year.Meanwhile, Stop Smiling offers up a Díaz interview.John Leonard's son compiles a concordance to his father's vigorous criticism, in which "thug," "libidinal," and "linoleum" make the top 10.The breathless inventorying of Roberto Bolaño's posthumous papers continues.Our friend Eliza Barclay reports from the Andes, finding little cause for optimism.Victor Lavalle becomes the most recent essayist spurred to eloquence by the Obama inauguration.Also from the Atlantic, Hitchens and Marx: On again?James Wood and Claire Messud get grilled - sort of - by The Harvard Crimson: he's the chef, she does laundry.The people who put William Kristol on payroll show themselves capable of good judgment. Congratulations, Ross Douthat!Wikipedia find of the week: beghilos (aka calculator spelling)Audrey Niffeneger is not feeling the recession. The NYT says $5 mil for The Time Traveler's Wife follow-up.NPR explores the doodles of powerful people.CAAF spends some time with the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus and pauses on "limn."Clay Shirky elucidates, perhaps better than most media pundits have, why newspapers need to be "thinking the unthinkable."
The film adaptation of Macbeth being helmed by Snowtown Murders director Justin Kurzel will star Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, reports Vulture. The movie will feature “Shakespeare’s original linguistic stylings” as well as “a visceral approach to the story including significant battle scenes,” and it is set to begin production this year.
"What women do in the books mentioned here doesn’t consist of survival so much as sabotage. They throw bricks and rocks and flaming bottles into the chinks of the masculine world machine, then pick up a gun and fire into the turning gears. If rape and other sexual violence, religious servitude, and the politically determined inaccessibility of contraception can be seen as acts of war, stories like these may not just be a means of escapism. In the mind’s eye, they might be weapons, to be picked up, opened, and deployed." At the Boston Review, Elizabeth Hand looks at women who fight back in fiction, from Gone Girl to Medea.
"If the sentences are meticulously made, I’ll read anything, whether it’s as destabilizing as a Gary Lutz short story or as melancholy as a Chris Ware comic. The only books I give up on are texts where the writer’s attention is concentrated so heavily on narrative questions that his or her use of language becomes careless." Anthony Doerr, whose All The Light We Cannot See won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, discusses genre, Calvin and Hobbes, and the 2,080 books he still wants to read as part of the New York Times Book Review's By the Book series.
New this week: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng; Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok; The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses; Shrink Thyself by the Letterman staff writer Bill Scheft; The Last Taxi Ride by A.X. Ahmad; and the Cambridge University Press edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Taps at Reveille.