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.
Recommended Reading: A piece of new fiction by Joanthan Safran Foer! Go check out "Maybe It Was the Distance" over at The New Yorker. Here's a review of Foer's Tree of Codes by Kevin Nguyen for The Millions which calls the format of the book, "a wonderful experiment in what a book can be, and also home to a mediocre novel."
Jay Rubin, best known as Haruki Murakami’s longtime English translator, is also a novelist in his own right. Last month, he published his debut The Sun Gods, about a Japanese-American couple who meet each other on the eve of World War II. In an interview with The Rumpus, he talks about Murakami, his new book and his interest in Japanese literature. You could also read Ben Dooley on Japanese cell phone novels.
The Asian American Writers' Workshop is holding the third annual Page Turner: Asian American Literary Festival tomorrow, October 29th in Brooklyn. There you'll find: Junot Díaz, Amitava Kumar, Min Jin Lee, Jayne Anne Phillips, Granta editor John Freeman, two stand-up comedians, five NBA finalists, seven Guggenheim Fellows, and a Korean taco truck.
"If a modern film version of Pride and Prejudice were produced today, some of the main characters should be gay, Elizabeth and Darcy should not get married at the end, and Charlotte Lucas should be played by a tabby cat." Laura Fairchild reveals her students' ideas for new adaptations of Jane Austen novels while meditating on what Austen can or can't teach us about modern relationships.
Deeply saddened to hear news that Jake Adam York died today. York published three critically acclaimed poetry collections between 2005 and 2010: Murder Ballads, A Murmuration of Starlings, and Persons Unknown as well as an additional work of literary history The Architecture of Address. Much of his work is available online as well, such as his poems "Vigil" and "Self-Portrait as Superman." Edit: The Kenyon Review has uploaded three recordings of York reading his poetry. These are highly recommended as well.
The National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced last night, and the winners might be familiar to Millions readers: last year, our own Matt Seidel reviewed fiction prize winner The Sellout, and the Football Book Club read Maggie Nelson's winner in the criticism field, The Argonauts. Head on over to The Guardian for more details.
We haven't seen a comic from Bill Watterson in two decades, but he's back with an illustration. Watterson drew the poster art for a new documentary on comic strips Stripped, which also features him. There are no tigers to be found but a nude man jumping out of his clothes in full color instead.