From McSweeney’s: These opening remarks made by John Hodgman at a literary reading shortly after September 11, 2001. This study on the literature of 9/11 from A-J Aronstein at The Millions is a sobering, related piece.
Speaking of France: whether or not you find him disagreeable, Michel Houellebecq is pretty much guaranteed to elicit an emotional response from readers. His new opinion piece in The New York Times is no different. Here’s a review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory that refers to him as a “petty misanthrope.”
Sara Davidson’s Joan: Forty Years of Life, Loss, and Friendship with Joan Didion is an intimate portrait of one of America’s most revered and private writers.
As if demonstrating exemplary literary skill weren’t enough, some overachieving authors were accomplished visual artists as well, notes AbeBooks in a roundup of talent that includes e e cummings, Günter Grass, Herman Hesse, and Jack Kerouac. Consider also our own Bill Morris on artists who channel writers in their own aesthetics.
Take a break from watching the snowboarding and skating at the Winter Olympics, and read some Russian literature instead. At NPR, Andrew D. Kaufman recommends three books to learn more about the Caucasus. For more on Russian literature, read our own Nick Moran’s essay on duels in Russian fiction.