A while back, I linked to a contentious letter between Saul Bellow and Jack Ludwig, written not long after Bellow found out Ludwig was sleeping with his wife. Now, here’s a (somewhat) less angry piece of correspondence, sent from Philip Larkin to Barbara Pym. Sample quote: “Has anyone ever done any work on why memories are always unhappy?”
With the help of Our Final Hour author Martin Rees, Cambridge will soon open a Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. The Centre will investigate the threats posed by “artificial intelligence, climate change, nuclear war and rogue biotechnology.” To my ears, this sounds an awful lot like Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, which was memorably depicted in John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “Violence of the Lambs.”
Newsweek Senior Writer (and Millions contributor) Alexander Nazaryan has a new interview with William T. Vollmann up on Newsweek’s website. To start things off right, he reports that if Vollman were to win the Nobel Prize, he’d enjoy giving a decent chunk of the prize money to prostitutes.
You may have heard that J.K. Rowling published a crime novel last year under the pen name Robert Galbraith. According to her alter ego’s website, Rowling will publish another novel as Galbraith, one featuring (again) the private investigator Cormoran Strike. (If you missed it, you should definitely read Elizabeth Minkel’s recent piece on Ron/Hermione and authorial regrets.)
Book trailers are one thing, but what’s a literary short film? According to Red 14 founders Adam Cushman and Mike Sandow, “it’s not advertising a product; it gives a cinematic glimpse into the book, one which will ideally make the viewer interested in learning more about the author, the author’s current book, and the author’s past and future work.” Together, the pair has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund four such films about four worthy titles (Matt Bell’s awesome debut novel among them).
The Morning News continues its ongoing Reading Roulette series by sharing “A Light Head” by Olga Slavnikova. While the author is a contender for the 2013 Russian Booker Prize, TMN correspondent Elizabeth Kiem doesn’t need to wait to award “best line” to this little ditty: “The Russian dilemma posed by Dostoyevsky—‘Shall I let the world go to hell or skip my tea?’—has been resolved in favor of the tea.”