You may have heard (via this site or elsewhere) that Harold Bloom has a new book out. In the Times Sunday Book Review, Cynthia Ozick gives her take, identifying the critic’s use of the phrase “without precedent” as key to understanding his theory. You could also read Matt Hanson on Bloom’s classic The Anatomy of Influence.
Ta-Nehisi Coates wants to make America less stupid about the Civil War. He recommends five books we should all read to gain a better understanding of American history during this war and assures us that "I’ve tried to think very hard about readability, and to offer books you might actually complete." So no excuses, start here
"The French writer Marcel Proust paid for glowing reviews of the first volume of his Remembrance of Things Past to be put into newspapers." Letters by Proust, which will be auctioned off at Soethby's in Paris next month, reveal he was willing to pay handsomely for flattering references to his novel. See also: the first entry of The Millions' Hannah Gersen's column, The Proust Book Club.
“He believed it a privilege and a shame that his race and nationality gave him the chance to come and go from lands where a guillotine blade seemed to dangle forever over the local citizens.” Denis Johnson's longtime Esquire editor Will Blythe pens a remembrance of the writer for The New York Times. See also: our own Sonya Chung's recommendation of Johnson’s celebrated short story collection Jesus’ Son to a friend some years back. “I know it will knock him out," she wrote. "It does (of course).”
Elissa Schappell thinks writers need to stop whining. "Writers seem to think that by virtue of intellect or sensitivity that we suffer more than others, that the work we do is more necessary than other work. This idea is not only ridiculous, it’s shameful," she wrote after 2paragraphs asked her "What Do You Like Least About Being A Writer?" Pair with: our interview with her earlier this year.
Ever seen Henry Kissinger make eyes at a geisha? Richard Nixon ham it up at the Grand Ole Opry? Or Betty Ford (a one-time Martha Graham dancer) take a turn on the Cabinet Room table? Legendary photographer David Hume Kennerly has. His retrospective at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica just came down, but many of the best images are still up at the Frank Pictures Gallery website. Kennerly also took the somewhat notorious picture of O.J. Simpson and family with President Ford (the one O.J. was arrested for trying to steal), and for which his retrospective--"If Only O.J. Had Called Me"--was named.