E.L. Doctorow, the renowned novelist and fiction writer best known for books including Ragtime, Billy Bathgate and the National Book Award-winning World’s Fair, passed away in Manhattan last night at the age of 84. You could read one of our numerous pieces about his work if you’d like to look back on his life and career.
It’s fitting that Ray Bradbury credited his interest in architecture to an H.G. Wells story he read when he was five. At The Paris Review Daily, a previously unpublished essay by the author, who says his career in architecture started when he noticed there was no plaque at the residence of Sherlock Holmes. Related: Tanjil Rashid on Bradbury’s connection to the Middle East.
“Kill ‘Em and Leave is [James] McBride’s own testament to [James] Brown’s philosophy. It’s a stunningly unorthodox book, indifferent to the conventions of biographical nonfiction … The book is a hybrid of forms, largely a telling of Brown’s life story and partly a telling of McBride’s search for that story, with digressions about the author’s own life, essayistic ruminations on Brown and his music, and free, looping riffs that have the energy of improvisation.” On James McBride’s unusual, unorthodox biography of the unusual, unorthodox James Brown.
The Scottish poet Robert Burns’s “Address to a Haggis” might well be the most famous ode to a food product in the English canon. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein celebrates Burns’s birthday by reflecting on the poem, which starts off by describing haggis as the “chieftain of the pudding race.”
Dispatch From the Future and The Fallback Plan author Leigh Stein explains that she is writing her forthcoming memoir, Land of Enchantment, for “everyone who’s been to more funerals than weddings, everyone who lurks on the Internet late at night looking at pictures of their lost loves, everyone who cries when a certain song comes on the radio because they think it must be a sign.”
Isn’t it lovely when books and sports coexist (somewhat) peacefully? In the spirit of the Major League Baseball ALCS playoff between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals, the Twitter accounts of the Toronto and Kansas City public libraries took to the internet to air their grievances. Unfortunately for the folks in Toronto, Kansas City went on to win the game and advance to the World Series with the New York Mets. For more on the intersection of sports and reading, check out the Football Book Club.
The 2016 election will never truly end, at least not in the literary world. Buzzfeed noted that “a series of recent campaign books have enjoyed monster debuts, demonstrating a voracious reader appetite for behind-the-scenes looks at one of the most surprising elections in history”. And before you think this trend will end any time soon, Buzzfeed lists some up and coming titles that will be published later this year or sometime next year. “The success of campaign books come during a tough period for the publishing world, where industry sources have described the difficulty of getting authors on television or attracting media attention in a frenzied environment focused on Trump.” We’re all about the publishing industry doing well but this seems like a slightly unhealthy obsession for both readers and publishers.
The CIA might just be America’s most literary government agency, no? Not only did they (maybe) help fund the early days of The Paris Review but, according to Eric Bennett, the group also funded the nation’s most prestigious and storied creative writing program. Over on Iowa Public Radio, you can hear some details.
“In my adolescence people spoke of ‘café intellectuals,’ not with the respect due to a sect that transmits ideas within the cramped space of a table but with the contempt reserved for those who turn their backs on reality and take refuge in vain speculation.” Juan Villoro on the writing life in Mexico City’s cafés as part of the “Writing Life Around the World” series for Electric Literature.