Flip through the blurbs on a recently published novel and you’re likely to come across a ton of stock phrases. Gary Shteyngart parodied this repetition — as well as other facets of the blurb-industrial complex — in a bit of improv last year. At The Morning News, Christine Gosnay writes about a poem that gave her a genuinely new reaction: the sense that she was “more than one person.”
As if demonstrating exemplary literary skill weren't enough, some overachieving authors were accomplished visual artists as well, notes AbeBooks in a roundup of talent that includes e e cummings, Günter Grass, Herman Hesse, and Jack Kerouac. Consider also our own Bill Morris on artists who channel writers in their own aesthetics.
When I was a kid, I read the whole Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and never thought about it being "for girls." At Slate, Emily Bazelon writes about why it's wrong that "the conventional educational wisdom holds that boys don't like to read about girls."The New York Public Library's 25 Books to Remember from 2005 (via Conversational Reading)It's Perfectly Normal, a sex education book by Robie H. Harris tops the American Library Association's list of 10 Most Challenged Books of 2005. Also on the list: The Catcher in the Rye and the Captain Underpants series.The Ten Worst Autobiographies as listed by The Independent. Not sure where else you'd find Hillary Clinton, James Frey and Hitler on the same list. (via Books Inq.)A New Orleans resident auctions off a bunch of "first-edition books, handwritten manuscripts and letters by Beat Generation writers" to raise money for Jon and Gypsy Lou Webb who published some of Charles Bukowski's earlest works and were left homeless by Hurricane Katrina.
"But where Smiley condescended, others were enthralled. Salmon Rushdie waxed lyrical, John Updike found it 'stunning,' Susan Sontag hosted him at dinner parties. Gabriel Garcia Marquez dubbed him, simply, 'the Master' - high praise from the founder of magical realism, but Kapuściński seemed to one-up Garcia Marquez by injecting magic into real politics, and elucidating thereby the human tension and bewilderment connected to power that traditional journalism left hidden." Ryszard Kapuściński: novelist? Journalist? Or something else entirely?
You may not have known that Thomas Jefferson - author of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. President, founder of the University of Virginia - also found time to amass the largest contemporary collection of books in North America. For sixteen years, The Library of Congress has been trying to track down copies of the final 250 listed in Jefferson's collection.
The sports world lost a legend this week in Joe Frazier. In honor of Smokin' Joe's indelible mark on the sport of boxing, Byliner has gathered thirteen great stories on the sweet science. Also worth reading is George Plimpton's classic Sports Illustrated story on the Frazier vs. George Foreman fight in Kingston.