The Naipaul Question, as Morgan Meis calls it, is simple: is V.S. Naipaul too offensive to be taken seriously? His recent biography includes scenes of abuse and moments of straightforward racism. But Meis thinks the issue is more complicated than whether Naipaul is a monster — the author is, in his phrasing, too “protean” to be pinned down.
“When I go back to Bogotá, I like to share my knowledge of the car bombs that went off in the city in the ’80s and ’90s. I helpfully point out the gory details to cab drivers and friends. I press my finger on the window and point at corners, ‘That’s the spot where an ATM blew up, seven dead.’” From Bogatá to Tel Aviv — here are ten writers on the places they immigrated from, returned to, remember, and call home.
On the occasion of the publication of his novel The Madonnas of Echo Park, Brando Skyhorse writes about the decades-long path that got him there and the rules for writing that he devised. (Thanks, Steve)
The Guardian published a couple of fun pieces earlier this week. The first is a hilarious excerpt from Mallory Ortberg’s Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters. The second is a collection of the top ten most memorable meals in all of literature.
Is just me, or has The New Yorker been resurgent the last few weeks? In addition to the David Grann piece mentioned below, we’ve gotten: Bloomberg, diving, James Wood‘s most cogent essay to date on atheism and belief, and a F-B-P triple play. (That’s Friend to Bilger to Paumgarten, for those keeping score at home.) And I read the fiction for five issues in a row – a personal best. I know they assemble these things far in advance, but it still feels like the Ian Frazier “Siberia” two-parter, eight years in the making, started some kind of conflagration of awesomeness. Thoughts?
With his black turtleneck, wire-rimmed glasses and conspiratorial grin, Steve Jobs was arguably the best ambassador ever between androids and humans.
Steven Soderbergh is interested in bringing The Sot-Weed Factor – John Barth’s “750-plus-page satire of picaresque novels” – to the big, silver or computer screen. You should start getting excited about this if you’re from Maryland, interested in literature, or tickled by the word “beshit.”