In the latest edition of By the Book, Neil Patrick Harris explains his love of Gone Girl, Steve Martin, and John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. We’ve written about the series in the past — you might want to look back on the entries by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Colson Whitehead.
Heaven forbid someone ever draws parallels between your writing and that of “Robert Rabelais the Younger.” For his work, published in the nineteenth century, has been described as “the most appallingly bad epic poem to have ever been written in English, comprised of 384 interminable pages of doggerel verse devoid of any literary merit, an opus d’odure that screams stinkburger.” (And that’s one of the more positive evaluations.)
Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin discusses the lessons he’s learned over the past year. He also gives a shout out to Underground, a film by Serbian director Emir Kusturica. Elsewhere, Zeitlin shares some of the music, books, and movies he’s been enjoying of late.
The literary it-boys Katie Roiphe described last week in her provocative New York Times essay may say a polite “no, thank you” to sex, but not Legends of the Fall author Jim Harrison. No, sir. His lusty men of all shapes and sizes (octogenarians, clubfooted teens) take second helpings with gusto in his new collection The Farmer’s Daughter.
In a piece for the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik writes about a new life of C. K. Scott Moncrieff, the first translator of Proust into English, and about the strange success and beauty his imperfect translation of Remembrance of Things Past achieved. The essay as a whole pairs well with both our own Bill Morris‘s essay against literary biography and Barclay Bram Shoemaker‘s Millions review of Mo Yan‘s Frog and “the trouble with translation.”
“Me? He wants me to give him advice? But why? I still have no idea what I am doing. Then I realized that I did, at least, have eight more years of a writing practice that had run in tandem with a life of odd jobs, graduate school, starting a business, traveling, etc. I thought about an anecdote my friend Daniel once told me about what happened when Ian McEwan was asked to give advice to a young writer just starting out. He simply said, ‘Be successful.’” Catherine Lacey gives advice to a not-much-younger writer.