Recommended reading: Year in Reading alum Leslie Jamison writes about the pleasures and “democratic awe” of Whitman‘s Specimen Days. Pair with our own Michael Bourne‘s “Embracing the Other I Am: or, How Walt Whitman Saved My Life.”
Over at Full Stop, Sean Minogue argues that social media can have a positive influence on a writer’s creative development. He mentions Twitter extraordinaire Teju Cole, who thinks his involvement in online discussions “comes from the non-American part of me which is saying that novelists in every other country, with the exception of the American or the Anglo-American sphere, actually consider it part of their work to engage.” Pair with our piece on the best of literary Twitter.
Along with D.T. Max, Laura Miller, and Jason Kottke, I’ll be participating in this week’s discussion of Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace over at New York Magazine.
“It is difficult for them to understand why a successful black woman would choose to return to the South and, worse yet, to Mississippi, which looms large in the public’s imagination for its racist depredations, and rightfully so.” For Time magazine’s American South issue Jesmyn Ward writes about her decision to return home to Mississippi.
Rumors of John Cheever’s death? Greatly exaggerated.HarperCollins sets out to test the proposition that there really is no such thing as bad publicity.BHL rips Valkyrie and Tom Cruise.Maud lauds Marlon James, author of The Book of Night Women.The New York Public Library names Millions guest contributor Sana Krasikov a finalist for its Young Lions award. Congratulations, Sana!More Intelligent Life interviews Jon Fasman, another Young Lion in waiting and author of The Unpossessed CityAlso at MiL: Lorin Stein wants a stimulus plan for book critics. (Hear! Hear!)Millions-fave Paul Theroux interviewed by the Boston Globe: “People say to me: How can I become a writer? I always say: one, leave home; two, tell the truth.”xkcd takes on the Kindle.”Jack Kerouac’s ‘lost’ novel The Sea is My Brother, which he wrote during his years as a merchant seaman, is to be published in its entirety for the first time.”Soon there will be a literary prize for everyone: “The St. Francis College Literary Prize is designed for a fourth published book of fiction.” ($50,000!)The strangest title shortlistVia Gwenda, the Wikipedia find of the week: “A book curse was the most widely-employed and effective method of discouraging the thievery of manuscripts during the medieval period.”The best reasoning yet for why the Kindle/”Text-to-Speech” uproar is dumb. Meanwhile, Amazon backs down.”I”, “we”, “two” and “three” the oldest English words.A resourceful group of Chinese enthusiasts creates bootleg translations of every issue of The Economist.Shark-jumping: “HarperCollins Pays Big Advance For A Book Of… Tweets“Stuff White Readers Should Like
New releases this week include the much-hyped The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I. Also out in nonfiction is President Obama’s picture book Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit), as reviewed by the New York Times, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, and, for hip-hop fans, Jay-Z’s memoir Decoded.