“I’ve come to understand that I’ll rarely experience that first rush of discovery again, and perhaps that’s the problem with re-reading. It reminds us both of where we’ve been and where we can’t go again.” Sarah Seltzer wonders why do we reread books as children but not as adults? Pair with Lisa Levy‘s essay on “The Pleasures and Perils of Rereading.”
Eric Benson interviewed Bruce Jackson about “the strange and brutal world of Southern prison farms.” Jackson, who recently published a collection entitled Inside the Wire, snapped prison photographs in Texas and Arkansas from 1964 to 1979. The images depict both the mundane and the surreal, occasionally appearing as though they were “taken from a fever dream.”
Somehow we knew that Gary Shteyngart had a pretty interesting childhood. As Andy Borowitz explains in a review of Little Failure, the author’s new memoir, the elder Shteyngart regaled his son with “outlandish” stories, most notably “a sci-fi saga about a Jewish planet under constant attack by volleys of pork.” You can learn what the author likes to read today in his Year in Reading piece.
Writing a novel is an all-consuming project, so can you imagine not telling anyone? At The New York Times, Alice Mattison discusses keeping her novels secrets until at least the third draft. “If I talk about the book, I believe — I cannot help believing — my characters will be angry, and will no longer confide in me about their embarrassing, troubled lives.” On another side of the secrecy spectrum, Emma Straub writes about what it’s like to keep a personal secret even as her literary life was booming.
Robert Darnton at the New York Review of Books considers the feasibility of creating a National Digital Library: “I know: the devil can cite Jefferson. Anyone can cull through the papers of the Founding Fathers in order to find quotations in support of a cause. But I can’t resist.”