Fresh Air’s Terry Gross sits down with Jonathan Franzen to talk about Purity, writing, and the possibility of parenthood. “I’ve always thought of myself as a comic novelist. It’s a tough road to hoe because comedy means light in people’s mind. There was an ambitious part of me that kind of chafed and was secretly relieved when the comedy was overlooked, but at a certain point, it becomes wearing for people not to get the humor.” Pair with our review of the novel.
Writing about a foreign country is always a dodgy proposition, but it seems to be especially thorny when English people and Americans take on their transatlantic brethren. Looking over two contributions to the genre by English writers — Terry Eagleton’s Across the Pond and A.A. Gill’s To America With Love — Carlin Romano concludes that neither manages to “teach us something new about ourselves.”
“You want to know who I am? If I wanted to have anything written on my tombstone, I would have, ‘Ask my children or ask my students.’ I actually never thought of it quite that way. That wouldn’t be a bad epitaph.” An excerpt from Studs Terkel‘s oral history of death, Will The Circle Be Unbroken?: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith, is now available online.
Out this week: Bed-Stuy Is Burning by Brian Platzer; Gork, the Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson; Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong; A Life of Adventure and Delight by Akhil Sharma; Knots by Gunnhild Øyehaug; Pages for Her by Sylvia Brownrigg; and Moving Kings by Joshua Cohen. For more on these and other new titles, go read our just-published book preview.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just released almost 400,000 high-resolution digital images of its collections. Among them are thousands of illustrations from bygone days when “picture books” were not for children alone. Pair with Buzz Poole‘s reviews of contemporary works of visual literature in The Millions archives, from hand-drawn self-help quotes to politically-charged images of transit in Tehran.