In 1979, William Gaddis taught a course at Bard College on “The Literature of Failure,” examining works that somehow focused on personal failure or insufficiency. These included, among other books, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays, as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In Bookforum, Casey Michael Henry takes on a related genre: the literature of obsolescence. You could also read James Cappio on meeting Gaddis in person.
In the early ‘70s, Kurt Vonnegut helped produce a TV adaptation of his work, Between Time and Timbuktu, that aired on the public TV program NET Playhouse. The adaptation brought together elements from several of the author’s most famous works, including Sirens of Titan, Cat’s Cradle and “Harrison Bergeron.” At Black Balloon Publishing’s blog, you can find YouTube clips and links to the printed script. (Related: our own Lydia Kiesling read Vonnegut’s Letters.) (h/t The Rumpus)
New releases this week are Lydia Davis’ new translation of Madame Bovary, Ingrid Betancourt’s memoir Even Silence Has an End, The Prizefighter and the Playwright, a book about the unlikely relationship between George Bernard Shaw and boxer Gene Tunney, and the poetry collection Human Chain by Nobel-Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney.
Thirty years after its initial publication, Don DeLillo’s White Noise is still every bit the hilarious, uncannily prescient classic that everyone believed it was. White nailed the whole “America poisoned by reality and the humming glow of computer screens” angle better than almost anyone. For more DeLillo, here’s what its like to re-read White Noise.