“Maybe our anointed literary books just have to be earnest ones because earnest ones showcase that soupçon of intelligence. Maybe humor isn’t felt to indicate a genuine commitment to looking smart.” Year in Reading alum Lydia Millet talks with Jenny Offill about humor writing, what books are “anointed” as modern classics, and Millet’s new book, Mermaids in Paradise.
William Stuntz’s book The Collapse of American Criminal Justice investigates “how, over the past 50 years, our criminal justice system had been transformed into an unfair, amoral bureaucracy–one that had given up on the very idea of justice.” Its genesis is worth reading about. So, too, is this related article in the most recent edition of n+1, “Raise the Crime Rate.”
“As much as there is an evergreen fascination for Christie’s stories, there’s also an alluring air of mystery surrounding the woman herself.” Broadly explores the enduring nature of Agatha Christie‘s stories, the recent surge in adaptations (including Murder on the Orient Express), and the mysterious 11-day disappearance of the writer herself. From our archives: an essay on the sometimes inherent predictability of the mystery genre.
Lots of action with the online mags: There’s a new issue of The Hipster Book Club, with a review of Aleksander Hemon’s Love and Other Obstacles, and an interview with Glen David Gold. There’s a new Quarterly Conversation, which includes Scott Esposito’s thoughtful consideration of Cormac McCarthy. Issue 3 of N1BR is out. And the first issue of The Point includes a piece on David Foster Wallace’s legacy.Brooklyn gets a new bookstore: Greenlight!Corpus Librus, the BEA editionIn an interview with Ed Champion, Sherman Alexie clarifies his comments about the Kindle being elitist.Tibor Fischer shares a first look at Thomas Pynchon’s forthcoming Inherent Vice.The seven types of bookstore customers. (via)An incredible collection of pocket paperback colophons.Coming soon from The Onion, Inventory, a collection of “obsessively specific pop-culture lists.”The Ask Metafilter crowd suggests what to read after 2666.For fans of style guides, here’s one from The EconomistFOUND Magazine founder Davy Rothbart is crazy about vintage NBA jerseys. (via)Further Reading: Edan’s post on gifting books in a digital age generated a bunch of interesting comments. Be sure to check them out. On a related note, in PopMatters, Michael Antman bemoans the disappearance of the “physical manifestations of contemporary culture.”
Robert Darnton at the New York Review of Books considers the feasibility of creating a National Digital Library: “I know: the devil can cite Jefferson. Anyone can cull through the papers of the Founding Fathers in order to find quotations in support of a cause. But I can’t resist.”
“To get me through a 550-page collection, the stories must be very good indeed. These are.” When Lionel Shriver participated in our Year in Reading ritual several years back, she dedicated her reading diary to William Trevor, who just passed away. “Trevor’s writing is so perfect that you don’t even notice it’s perfect,” she wrote. “He mainlines pure narrative directly into your veins. The words never get in the way; the words, like their author, disappear.”