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.
Spider-Man is one of our favorite superheroes, but he's a terrible journalist. At The Atlantic, Daniel D. Snyder discusses how Peter Parker and Clark Kent are unethical reporters. "The media is, in theory at least, supposed to be honest. Putting on a costume, coming up with a fake name, and lying to everyone about what you really do are the opposite of that."
Google has added a Worldcat search to Google Books, allowing readers to look for books in their local libraries as well as on online bookstore sites. (via)From the Department of Clever Book Promotions: Random House is using a text-based (or interactive fiction) game to promote the release of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist.Steven Johnson's forthcoming book The Ghost Map, "a thrilling historical account of the worst cholera outbreak in Victorian London," sounds pretty terrific. To whet the appetite, he provides a brief list of the "best" plague books to the Wall Street Journal. (via).Just in time for Banned Books Week, check out some very cool banned books jewelry.
In an excerpt of Out of Time, a new book on “the pleasures and perils of ageing,” author Lynne Segal makes a case that many iconic male writers -- among them Philip Roth, John Updike and Martin Amis -- display in their works a belief that the slow loss of virility is one of the most tragic effects of growing older for men. Citing passages from Toward the End of Time and Portnoy’s Complaint, she finds evidence that these writers' depictions of masculinity reveal “obdurate social hierarchies of gender and ageing." (Related: Keith Meatto on advice you can glean from Philip Roth’s work.)
Out this week: Our Little Racket by Anjelica Baker; Flesh and Bone and Water by Luiza Sauma; Night Thoughts by Wallace Shawn; The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues by Edward Kelsey Moore; and New Collected Poems by Marianne Moore. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.