“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.
Pop Chart Lab’s latest creation depicts some of the most famous cocktail-and-character pairings in literature and film. The gamut runs from Daisy Buchanan’s Mint Julep to The Dude’s White Russian. (Of course, the Preakness Stakes are this weekend, so really you should be drinking Black Eyed Susans.)
George R. R. Martin’s publisher shared an excerpt from the author’s story, “The Princess and The Queen, or, The Blacks and The Greens.” The piece serves as a “Westerosi history lesson on the Targaryen Civil War,” and covers “the Causes, Origins, Battles, and Betrayals of that Most Tragic Bloodletting Known as the Dance of the Dragons.” It will be bundled along with 20 other stories in the forthcoming Dangerous Women collection. The question remains, however: what kind of recipes does it feature?
“In fact, I think Plath has turned out to be a much better poet than Hughes ever was. Of course he won all the prizes, and his name is on the stones in Poet’s Corner and OK, he’s pretty good, but not that good, whereas she gets better and better.” Granta interviews the critic Al Alvarez, onetime friend of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
Over at Threepenny Review, Jess Row expounds on “blandness” in the work of Haruki Murakami, and particularly in his 2.8 lb. tome 1Q84—a book tabbed by Charles Baxter in last year’s Year in Reading as the best he’d read all year. Row contemplates the way Murakami’s characters and sentences “almost never lose this placid, observant neutrality,” or “continuous monotone.”