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.”
Rebecca Schuman argues in an essay for Slate that extraordinarily long course syllabi are killing the college classroom. If it’s academic homicide you’re after, you might also want to check out Cathy Day’s piece for The Millions in which she suggests that academia might just be killing the novel, too.
Sylvia Plath’s final days have long been a source of fascination and horror for many readers. In a forthcoming unauthorized biography of Plath’s husband Ted Hughes, it is claimed that one of Hughes’s more contentious poems, “Last Letter,” was written after an argument the couple had the night before Plath took her own life. Ted Hughes: An Unauthorized Life is out next week.
Remember the Rudyard Kipling poem where he says the British government should be scalped? We don’t either. However, a forthcoming book of lost Kipling poems, 100 Poems: Old and New, shows his anti-establishment side. An excerpt from the aforementioned poem, “Laudatores Actoris Empti:” “Come, let us lightly scalp the brood / Of ‘educated middle classes’ / Who, much perplexed with ‘views’ and ‘goals’ / Now govern London – and our souls”
Following a long battle with cancer, David Rakoff died Thursday night at the age of 47. Rakoff recently delivered a novel entitled Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish to Doubleday, and fans can look out for it next year. Reflections on Rakoff’s life and legacy can be read courtesy of Jason Diamond and Choire Sicha, and two of Rakoff’s best This American Life pieces can be found here and here.