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.
Jenny Diski, a prolific author who’d kept up a serialized diary of living with cancer since 2014, died this morning at the age of 68. Her partner, Ian Patterson, broke the news on Twitter, after which outlets including The Guardian confirmed it. The author had recently published her final book, a memoir.
“After breaking down the data by neighborhood and age group, it became clear: Children’s books are a rarity in high-poverty urban communities. The likelihood that a parent could find a book for purchase in these areas ‘is very slim.’” On book deserts across America.
Measuring a writer’s success is tricky. An author might make The New York Times Bestseller List now but only be a footnote in an encyclopedia a century later. At The Guardian, D.J. Taylor wonders what contributes to a writer’s posterity and concludes a pushy publisher or sponsor is often a writer’s best asset. Pair with: Our essay on how John Updike fans attempt to maintain his reputation.
The New York Times dives into why prisons fear the New Jim Crow certain states have gone to great efforts to allow their prisons to ban it and in other states it’s fairly difficult to obtain if you’re a prisoner. We’re big fans of the New Jim Crow here; it was a Millions staff pick and extremely popular on Year in Reading lists back in 2013.
You may have heard that Haruki Murakami has a new book on shelves. Woody Brown reviewed it for The Millions last week. Over at Electric Lit, Lincoln Michel invites us to play Murakami Bingo, created by Grant Snider, once again. It might also be a good time to read Ben Dooley on 1Q84.