“In 1865, Karl Marx confessed that he considered his chief characteristic ‘singleness of purpose,’ and that his favorite occupation was ‘bookworming.’ Five years later, Oscar Wilde wrote in an album called ‘Mental Photographs, an Album for Confessions of Tastes, Habits, and Convictions’ that his distinguishing feature was ‘inordinate self-esteem.'” Over at The New Yorker, take a look at how Marcel Proust’s questionnaires inspired a generation of question-by-by-question introspection.
E. B. White is one of those writers you are liable to meet again and again in the course of a reading life, each time wearing a different expression. To children, he is the author of Charlotte’s Web; to college students, he is half of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Later on, he helped define the voice of the early New Yorker. Now all those Whites have been brought together in the pages of In the Words of E. B. White: Quotations from America’s Most Companionable of Writers, an anthology of quotations edited by his granddaughter Martha White.
In The Guardian, Year in Reading alum Joshua Ferris writes a tribute to the novelist Jim Shepard, who taught him at UC Irvine when Ferris was a student there in the early aughts. Ferris makes a case that Shepard single-handedly settles a modern debate: “A lot of critics dislike the professionalisation of creative writing. They have never had Shepard in a workshop.”
Last week, I wrote about Josh Weil and Mike Harvkey’s joint book tour, which sees the two driving a Prius across America to promote their latest novels. Now, in their latest dispatch, they reflect on the differences between writers like themselves and midcentury writers like Andre Dubus and Norman Mailer.
Book lists galore: The Believer announces its annual book award winner, along with the always eclectic reader survey results; Forty of Nick Hornby’s favorite books – he thinks you’ll like at least a few; You may not be able to register for Zadie Smith’s fiction seminar, but you can read the same books.Rushdie considers the art of the adaptation.And so it came to pass: the “pay what you want” eBook.A comic-book map of New York.Emily Bobrow digs Leanne Shapton’s brains……where certain other reviewers the VQR could name might get hung up on her jacket photo.Whose tweets are these? I think I know.Tom McCarthy and the lovable lads of the International Necronautical Society are at it again.The Reagan diaries offer “scrupulous, concise, often remarkably good reading,” says Open Letters Monthly.Anne Trubek at Good Magazine (and Oberlin College professor!) on “What is a Book?“Paul Maliszewski at Bookslut on “What is a Fake?“New features for the Kindle.We’re digging the cover for Colson Whitehead’s forthcoming novel, Sag Harbor.Wikipedia find of the week: Fakelore: “Fakelore is inauthentic, manufactured folklore presented as if it were genuinely traditional.”Murakami’s uneasy relationship with Japan: “He has been seen, and to some degree positioned himself, as a literary pariah in Japan, in part because of its tepid-to-negative critical reception of his work.”Further reading: Check out the interesting Kindle pro and con in the comments of Max’s Kindle/iPhone post this week; And check out the interesting discussion of the New Yorker’s commitment (or lack thereof) to international literature in the comments of Garth’s DFW post.And finally, a concrete step toward breaking our addiction to foreign oil.