We’ve written a fair bit about the By the Book series at the Times. You can read a selection of the best entries in a collection published by the paper. This week, the series featured another novel guest: Alan Gilbert, the conductor of the New York Philharmonic. Sample quote: “I don’t seek out books about music. I’ve read them over the years, but somehow, as a genre, it isn’t something I am specifically looking for.”
When John Steinbeck wasn’t busy writing 600-page novels, he might have been a Cold War CIA spy. In 1952, Steinbeck approached the CIA and suggested he could do some spying on an upcoming European trip. “The pace and method of my junket together with my intention of talking with great numbers of people of all classes may offer peculiar advantages,” he wrote to an agent.
In writing her novel The Last Neanderthal, which published this week, Millions staffer Claire Cameron relied on Jane Smiley’s motto for writing historical fiction: “you are there.” Bonus: Don’t miss our interview with Cameron, in which she describes her many “life-long obsessions.”
Largehearted Boy has put out an updated installment of his “Blogs to Read.” This year, he modified his approach to include collectively authored sites, “to better include the collaborative websites I read every day.” The Millions is included as are a number of other excellent sites.
“At first I had three [children], because I think we need to be outnumbered. It’s good for them. That was my plan when I had three children.” Sit down with Karl Ove Knausgaard as he drives his daughter home. Jonathan Callahan reflects on how Knausgaard’s writing consumes him.