A couple years ago, Robert Birnbaum interviewed Edith Pearlman for The Millions, asking why the highly regarded short story writer didn’t hit it big until recently. Now, in the Times, Laura van den Berg reads Pearlman’s book Honeydew, in a piece that nicely complements Steve Almond’s profile of the author. FYI, Laura van den Berg has written for us.
What happens when you grow up reading Harry Potter, Twilight, and Fifty Shades of Grey? At The Morning News, five women discuss what it meant to come of age reading these books. “It’s more socially acceptable for a guy to watch porn than it is for a twentysomething woman to read these books. There is something that bothers me about that,” one women said.
“Russian humor is to ordinary humor what backwoods fundamentalist poisonous snake handling is to a petting zoo. Russian humor is slapstick, only you actually die.” Ian Frazier writes about the strange humor of Daniil Kharms for the New York Review of Books.
Courtney Traub talks with Kevin Begos, Jr, publisher of Agrippa, a Book of the Dead, a 1992 book that contains an encrypted poem by William Gibson set to self-erase after a single reading. Begos explains his intentions when creating the book, and Traub recounts the difficulties Oxford recently had when deciding how to archive a work that deliberately resists preservation. Gibson’s newest book, Distrust That Particular Flavor, made our list of the most anticipated releases of 2012. Also don’t forget to read our review of Gibson’s 2010 novel, Zero History.
Most institutions that become an essential part of a local culture build up a collection of curios over the years. They collect as much evidence as they can of their proximity to major events. At the New York Public Library, for example, you can find a letter opener whose handle is made from the paw of Charles Dickens’s dead cat. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)