Most readers nurse particular fantasies of stepping into their favorite books. Whether they dream of enrolling at Hogwarts, or signing up for MI6 with James Bond, they usually have a stable of settings that function as a means of escape. So imagine how strange and conflicting it was to be Jonathan Gottschall, the English professor who got a chance to enter Fight Club.
Tom Wolfe has a chance to defend (er, ward off?) his 2004 “Bad Sex Award” following Literary Review‘s decision to nominate him for this year’s top honors (er, dishonors?). The UK publication has tapped Back to Blood and seven others for this year’s shortlist — and, despite popular demand, they managed to spare J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. For some revealing passages from Wolfe’s book, check out my review.
Remember the Rudyard Kipling poem where he says the British government should be scalped? We don’t either. However, a forthcoming book of lost Kipling poems, 100 Poems: Old and New, shows his anti-establishment side. An excerpt from the aforementioned poem, “Laudatores Actoris Empti:” “Come, let us lightly scalp the brood / Of ‘educated middle classes’ / Who, much perplexed with ‘views’ and ‘goals’ / Now govern London – and our souls”
Olsson’s, a small chain that was an old standby among Washington D.C. independent bookstores, is likely to file for bankruptcy. It was the stores’ ample music sections and gentrification that contributed most to its downfall. “‘The book business is getting a little soft. It’s not selling as much as it used to,’ Olsson said. ‘Our music sales went from 50 percent of our business to maybe 15. We lost a lot of revenue, and at the same time rents went up and real estate taxes went up. I don’t know what we would have done differently. It’s a killer.'”The linguistic capabilities of modern world leaders. Well done, Pope, well done.For those whose fantasies involve real estate: Private Islands for SaleAnd a pair of audio items:Nam Le’s The Boat is getting rave reviews. Here he visits The Leonard Lopate Show.Garth covered the PEN World Voices Tribute to Robert Walser. Interested readers can now listen to the entire event.
At The Nervous Breakdown, an excerpt of Still Writing, the new book by Year in Reading alum Dani Shapiro. The excerpt comes on the heels of one of the site’s trademark self-interviews, in which the author laments of herself as interviewer, “You don’t pull any punches, do you?” (Related: our own Hannah Gersen talked with Shapiro about her book.)
Audio for over 10,000 events – including concerts, poetry readings, and public interviews – is being made available on the 92nd Street Y’s new digital archive. Among the treasures in the trove are readings by Tennessee Williams, Vladimir Nabokov, and Susan Sontag. (Thanks Andrew.)