“When you read these books—I suggest perusing them, martini in hand, while your children (or better your friends’ children, for whom you are babysitting) run around shrieking—you’ll see every parenting stance you’ve ever adopted, every parent-story trope you’ve ever told or heard, expressed more perfectly than you ever could have.” Dan Kois on Shirley Jackson’s two memoirs on parenting.
“When it comes to living in a democracy, Nato Thompson argues, nothing affects us more directly and more powerfully than culture. Culture suffuses the world we live in, from TV to music to advertising to sports. And all these things, Thompson writes in his new book, Culture as Weapon, ‘influence our emotions, our actions, and our very understanding of ourselves as citizens.'”
George Saunders is taking up residence at the Powell’s Blog this week as he embarks on a book tour promoting his latest (released today), The Braindead Megaphone. To my knowledge, it is Saunders’ first foray into blogging, a format we discussed nearly two years ago (scroll down). His concern: “I worry about how much I would have to pay myself to keep my blog supplied with content. My fear is that, knowing I was working for myself, I would start cheating myself, only submitting my worst pieces, then get into a labor dispute with myself and never speak to me again.” Hopefully, his fears aren’t realized.A new issue of Scott Esposito’s terrific Quarterly Conversation has arrived. It features, among several notable contributors, Garth, who “sorts out literary feuds, dissects James Wood’s essay against Don DeLillo’s 832-page opus Underworld, and argues that this book actually evolves the novel forward.”Emdashes has the schedule for this year’s New Yorker Festival. It looks fantastic as usual. I should really go sometime.
The folks at The New Yorker’s Book Bench offer their take at The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books. (Spoiler Alert: Katherine Hepburn gets a shoutout.)
“Many times, I’ve found that a book I once held in my hands becomes another when assigned its position in my library.” In The Paris Review, an excerpt on the art of packing (and unpacking) a library from Alberto Manguel‘s upcoming book, Packing My Library: An Elegy and Ten Digressions. Pair with: an essay on reorganizing one’s personal library.
“There is a saying that has become a cliché: ‘Pictures speak louder than words.’ But sometimes, a picture can speak louder than words because it contains a profound silence. It’s what a picture does not say that can often make it loud. What is, after all, a wordless novel but a novel devoted to the message of silence?” On Frans Masereel‘s My Book of Hours, a wordless novel in woodcuts. For another, lighter perspective on the power of picture books, pair with Jacob Lambert‘s “Yet Again, I Ask: Are Picture Books Leading Our Children Astray?“
The Smithsonian has a good reminder about the links between design and history, about how time can seemingly erode the politics behind an aesthetic movement, about the relationships between images and texts, about how Italian futurism may still look cool but came from a group of sexist and at least partially fascist men.