“A film based on a historical subject, even a beautifully shot one, can remind us without meaning to that although reading in the US is a minority activity, the book is still the only medium in which you can make a complicated argument.” Darryl Pinckney writes about “Some Different Ways of Looking at Selma” for the New York Review of Books. Pair with our own Bill Morris‘s Millions review of the film.
“I’m a writer through and through, but the art world—to a large extent—provides the arena in which literature can be vigorously addressed, transformed, and expanded.” Frederic Tuten interviews Tom McCarthy about the overlap between the visual arts and literature, the importance of reading, and living, voraciously, and the power of Finnegans Wake for BOMB Magazine. Pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s review of BOMB: The Author Interviews.
A new laureateship award worth €150,000 was created by Ireland’s Arts Council in conjunction with University College Dublin and New York University. The award will be given to “an outstanding Irish writer of fiction” with hopes that the author will “promote [Irish] literature around the world” and “inspire the public to engage with the best Irish fiction.” The first appointment will be made in 2014.
Before adopting the relatively unimaginative (and highly debatable) moniker “The Greatest City in America,” Baltimore, MD was for a time known as “The City That Reads.” In an essay for Poets & Writers, Jen Michalski explains how the city’s bookish reputation endures despite the motto change.
New this week: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel; The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah; Youngblood by Matthew Gallagher; Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney; The Collected Novellas of Stefan Zweig; A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh; Don’t Lose Track by Jordannah Elizabeth; and The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee (who we interviewed this week). For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
To commemorate publication of the 65th anniversary edition of Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, New Directions has asked ten contemporary writers to “create new exercises in homage to Queneau.” Over at The Rumpus, you can check out Jonathan Lethem’s “Cyberpunk” exercise, as well as one of Queneau’s twenty eight “never before translated” exercises making its English debut in the new edition. Bonus: read our own Mark O’Connell on the “radical claims about the relationship between form and content” in Queneau’s writing.
They’ve called him a sports icon, a “national nightmare,” an author, and a punchline. They’ve questioned the backlash against him, and tracked his particular brand of “muscular Christianity.” Coincidental religious symbolism has been noted. Yet so far nothing has come close to genius of Jimmy Fallon’s rendition of Tim Tebow as… TeBowie.
Though Mark Twain first gained notoriety after publishing an essay about a famous jumping frog, the onetime Samuel Clemens didn’t really hit his stride until he became a public speaker, as the money he accrued from reading in front of audiences gave him a steady source of income. At Salon, Ben Tarnoff recounts Twain’s journey to the podium, one laid out more broadly in Tarnoff’s book about a group of San Francisco writers.