How did Herman Melville’s friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne affect the writing of Moby-Dick? It’s a hard question to answer with any certainty, but Patrick James Dunagan gives it a shot, drawing evidence from Erik Hage’s book on the authors’ relationship. You could also read Hester Blum’s argument that Moby-Dick is the greatest American novel.
What are those crazy kids from Vampire Weekend saying in their new single, “Cousins”? It’s a little disappointing, as the beleaguered translators of lyrics at We Listen For You reveal.
Haven’t read Agatha Christie? The Oyster Review will get you up to speed. Their latest Reader’s Guide, written by Lili Loofbourow, delves into the writer behind Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and countless other iconic characters. You could also read Daniel Friedman on the ending to every mystery novel.
“There are times it’s happening multiple times a day. Not too long ago, we had two in the same restroom at the same time. We call security, security calls paramedics. Of course they always find somebody lying there.” Samantha Sanders writes for Catapult about the epidemic of opioid overdoses in public libraries, and what some librarians are doing to respond. And ICYMI, here is Corinne Purtill in our own pages about British libraries under austerity cuts.
This week, our own Lydia Kiesling took part in The Morning News Tournament of Books, where she adjudicated a showdown between Scott McClanahan’s Hill William and Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. Who went on to the next round: the trans-Pacific odyssey, or the tale of West Virginia? (You could also read our own Edan Lepucki’s Tournament contribution from last year, or else read our own Nick Moran’s Year in Reading piece on Scott McClanahan.)
“But reading Finnegans Wake is more than a matter of collecting one’s favorite quotations – even if there is a huge pleasure in that, especially if you admire truly terrible jokes.” Michael Wood writes an essay on James Joyce, Lewis Carroll, and the origins of clever wordplay for the London Review of Books.