Those of you with some knowledge of Pale Fire and Lolita won’t be surprised to learn what Nabokov thought of dinner parties. Namely, he thought they were awful, vaguely surreal events, held largely by drunkards with overriding appetites for drama. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein quotes a passage from “The Vane Sisters” to explain why “It’s hard to think of someone you’d want less at a midcentury faculty tea, save maybe a seething Shirley Jackson.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
This week in book-related graphics: An image-heavy test that combines poetry with traffic signs from Ploughshares, and an infographic breaking down the most fearsome (and most useless) characters in The Iliad.
“Ms. Gitelman’s argument may seem like an odd lens on familiar history. But it’s representative of an emerging body of work that might be called ‘paperwork studies.’ True, there are not yet any dedicated journals or conferences. But in history, anthropology, literature and media studies departments and beyond, a group of loosely connected scholars are taking a fresh look at office memos, government documents and corporate records, not just for what they say but also for how they circulate and the sometimes unpredictable things they do.”
Corey Vilhauer, host of his Book of the Month Club here at The Millions, has put together a great collection of lists of greatest writers, straying outside of the purely literary realm into music, film, and other areas. He has his own top 25, as well as top tens from a number of guests.The Guardian interviews Richard Ford in anticipation of his upcoming third Frank Bascome novel, Lay of the Land. “It is quite some novelty to find myself waking up in Richard Ford’s bed,” it starts.The Boston Globe profiles John Hodgman, who, with his book The Areas of My Expertise, regular “Daily Show” appearances, and ubiquitous Mac ads is suddenly everywhere. Update: Hodgman gets interviewed by Radar.Did you know there are two books about “Jeopardy!” out right now? Brainiac is by Ken Jennings, the guy who was the game show’s champion for about six months in 2004. A somewhat wackier look at the show is Prisoner of Trebekistan by another former champion, Bob Harris. The Village Voice recently reviewed both books.