“When we read a book that requires that effort — when the act of reading becomes rigorous and self-aware, rather than effortless and transparent — we get to have a history with what we’ve given ourselves to, a history etched into us by the demanding friction of its difficulty.” Zoë Heller and Leslie Jamison debate whether or not we overvalue difficult literature in The New York Times.
If you’re like me, you probably assumed you’d never read the phrase “George Saunders in O, the Oprah Magazine”, but this is where his latest piece has turned up. As part of a creative way of presenting a list of books to read, the author imagines what reading material he’d give to an alien who wants to know what it’s like to be human. For more on his work, go read our own Elizabeth Minkel on his legacy and recent collection.
Wole Soyinka does not approve of the push for Chinua Achebe to be awarded a posthumous Nobel Prize for Literature, and he doesn’t appreciate fan letters asking for his support to that end. “How did creative valuation descend to such banality?” Soyinka remarks in an interview with SaharaReporters. “Do these people know what they’re doing – they are inscribing Chinua’s epitaph in the negative mode of thwarted expectations. I find that disgusting.”
Chief among your more anxiety-producing kinds of literature is the genre of books geared towards expectant mothers. Examples of the genre offer every bit of advice imaginable — much of it contradictory — and condemn a laundry list of relatively common behaviors. At Salon, our own Lydia Kiesling recounts her own dive into the pregnancy-lit waters. This might also be a good time to read fellow staff writer Edan Lepucki on the perils of reading while expecting.
The last of the World Cup qualifying matches wrapped up this week and the final list of qualified teams is in. See the list of the 32 qualified national teams headed for South Africa in 2010 here.