“In the six years that I wrote the book, I moved around a huge amount. I was in five or six different states, and spent a lot of time on the road. I think if you’re out in this country so much, you just see a lot of weird stuff. Weird, ominous stuff.” Talking with Laura van den Berg.
East of the West author Miroslav Penkov is sitting pretty these days. The Bulgarian fiction writer recently nabbed the BBC International Short Story Award for his collection’s titular story, “East of the West.” With a purse of £15,000, this is the world’s biggest prize for short stories, though typically it considers work by British authors only. However this year, due to the 2012 Olympics, the field was expanded to include international writers. All five judges unanimously picked Penkov’s work over the nine other submissions. You can read an excerpt online courtesy of Google Books, and you can get a little more acquainted with Penkov’s themes on Picador’s Tumblr.
This track-by-track take on Jason Isbell’s newest album Something More Than Free is as comprehensive as it is intelligent. Isbell, who rose to fame as a member of Athens, GA mainstays The Drive By Truckers, has seen most of the press narrative around him focus on his trips to rehab and subsequent recovery–this record, however, aims for something more. Here’s our Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music column to satisfy any lingering musical urges.
We’ve been back from our holiday travels for a few days, and I’ve finally had some time to catch up with some online reading. Here are some articles and links that caught my eye. (Several of these come from Arts and Letters Daily)From Scientific American, a look at last year’s tsunami and how scientists have used this real life event to validate and augment various previously untested theories about these rare, cataclysmic events.The 2005 Dubious Data Awards: the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) at George Mason University highlights several examples of overhyped news stories based on dubious numbers.From Wired: Will the impending bird-flu pandemic be a global version of “the boy who cried wolf?” Scientists are trying to assess the real danger using supercomputers to play out fantastically complicated simulations that remind me of SimCity.In the Washington Post, Jonathan Yardley “reconsiders” C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower saga. He suggests Beat to Quarters as the best in the series.I’ve definitely become very interested in the business of newspapers in the last few years. Mike Hughlett’s article in the Chicago Tribune is a little “inside baseball,” but it lays out how important classified ads are to newspapers, and explains why newspapers aren’t as imperiled in the in online classified arena as some might suggest.Another tough business is opening a coffee shop. Michael Idov shares the harrowing details of his experience at Slate.A no-frills list of the bestselling books from 1900 to 1998, year by year.
“I have wasted my life.” Over at the Paris Review, Dan Piepenbring takes a look at James Wright‘s “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” and the many interpretations readers have brought to its famous last line. Among those readers is David Mitchell, who wrote about the same poem in an essay for The Atlantic‘s By Heart series earlier this year.
“In Proust’s case, I think he helps us to see the world as it really is, not only its extraordinary beauty and diversity, but his observations make us aware of how we perceive and how we interact with others, showing us how often we are mistaken in our own assumptions and how easy it is to have a biased view of another person.” William C. Carter makes an argument as to why we should still read Proust. Our own Hannah Gersen has started a Proust Book Club.