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.
The history behind the iconic Esquire cover that depicts Andy Warhol trapped in a swirling vortex of tomato soup. Before photoshop! I have a reproduction of this particular cover hanging in my kitchen, and I have to tell you that I can't bear to eat canned Tomato soup at all anymore.
Peter Hedges, author of the novel and screenplay for What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, as well as Dan in Real Life, and Pieces of April, is set to adapt and direct his latest novel, The Heights. Set in Brooklyn Heights amid its wealthy, over-zealous, stay-at-home mommy set, the novel follows a happy, slightly down-at-the-heel couple as their marriage is tested by the arrival of another woman. (All of the wit of Tom Perrotta's Little Children, but not quite so dark and cynical.)
At The Nervous Breakdown, Micah McRary talks with Leslie Jamison about her use of POV, her new book of essays and whether her criticism might be dubbed “evasive biography.” You could also read our interview with Jamison or else read Ryan Teitman’s review of The Empathy Exams.
Out this week: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid; South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion; All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg; Ill Will by Dan Chaon; The Accusation by Bandi; The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge; and American Berserk by our own Bill Morris. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Recommended reading (and doodling): an excerpt from an upcoming translation of Martin Solares's How to Draw a Novel, complete with diagrams and squiggling lines. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen's look at authors's methods for drawing and mapping their own novels-in-progress.
Recommended Reading: For the writers who make coffee for their day jobs, Lucy Schiller discusses the burden of being happy all the time as a San Francisco barista in "Service with a Smile." The essay is the first in a weekly series by The Riveter, a magazine spotlighting original longform journalism by women. Pair with Jason Diamond's essay on being mistaken for a professional barista.