For Perry Link, it was embarrassing to read Eileen Chang for the first time, because her work revealed things about China it took him too long to learn on his own. In The New York Review of Books, he writes about how Naked Earth, which the magazine’s publishing arm is republishing in June, cut through the jargon of Chairman Mao’s regime. FYI, Jamie Fisher wrote an essay on the book for The Millions.
Julia Child fans may enjoy a new collection of her correspondence with her friend and “unofficial literary agent” Avis DeVoto. The letters follow Child through her life overseas. Also out now is a snazzy new Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray with a cover illustrated by Ruben Toledo.
Geoff Dyer endorses Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station , John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead –our own Bill Morris loves it too!–and a generalized aversion toward seafood in his interview with Morten Høi Jensen for Book Forum. While they ostensibly met to talk about Zona–reviewed on The Millions here–it’s perhaps unsurprising that they managed to digress so liberally: “we chatted about his review of Richard Bradford’s Martin Amis: the Biography, and by the end he was giving me advice about which David Markson book I should read first. Our interview, in other words, assumed the shape of a Geoff Dyer book.”
Three Percent is organizing a “World Cup of Literature” to coincide with the international soccer tournament’s June 12th beginning. The rules are simple: literature from each of the 32 countries in the actual World Cup will be put into a “32-book knock-out tournament,” and “each ‘match’ will pit two books against one another and will be judged by one of … fifteen illustrious judges.” Who’s your early favorite? (Bonus: “What happened when 10 European poets were asked to portray their home country in verse ahead of the European elections?”)
In a digital age, what’s the point of handwriting? It may seem like there isn’t much point to honing one’s penmanship these days. In Hazlitt, Navneet Alang suggests that handwriting, far from being a lost art, is in fact a “useful alchemy” that retains particular uses. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on writing by hand.