“Wallace’s fiction contains enormous cruelty… But it is also a deeply moral body of work. Its difficulties, and many of its cruelties, exist for specific reasons. Whether Wallace’s fraught projects are successes or failures is up to the individual, but these are judgments that all serious readers should want to make for themselves.” Chris Power considers David Foster Wallace‘s short stories in an essay for The Guardian and argues that after Infinite Jest they just might be the most important work he produced.
Bill Gates is the founder of Microsoft, a billionaire, a philanthropist, and an amateur book club leader. He posted his summer reading list on his website, The Gates Notes. You won’t find any beach reads because Gates prefers nonfiction such as However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls and The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?. You can read the latter along with him.
Alright, time to fess up – who keeps buying all these Mein Kampfs? This piece from The Daily Beast takes a look at Hitler’s 800-page tome and questions why people continue to buy it despite the fact that “it might be dull as one of those many lunchtime monologues that bored Frau Goebbels cross-eyed.”
“Limits stop you from living a life without limits,” writes Augusten Burroughs. “Of course, this is only an illusion. What limits really do is give you an acceptable excuse to avoid doing something.” (He’s talking about life, not Oulipo.) The piece is excerpted from his recent book, This Is How.
“[E]ven though he was already sick with the illness that would eventually become the tuberculosis that killed him, Orwell left London to live on the Scottish island of Jura (off and on) for the next few years, where he could try to focus on writing fiction instead of journalism.” Nathan Gelgud creates a wonderful illustrated origin story of 1984 for Signature Reads. Pair with this piece on the fall (literally) of the ur-Orwellian home.
“The fact that Harry Potter midnight release parties were the event to go to as a teen was completely unprecedented in geek culture. You can draw a dotted line to the mainstreaming of geek culture through Harry Potter.” Twenty years after the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Huffington Post asks authors, editors, and publishers how Rowling’s juggernaut changed reading and the world of Young Adult fiction. Then see this counterpoint from our own pages last year: There Is No Such Thing as the Young Adult Novel.