“Ideas are interesting to me, and religions are a place where ideas have been very subtly embodied for thousands of years. All literature started as sacred literature.” Alexandra Alter interviews Salman Rushdie about his brand-new novel, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights.
"I can locate the remnants of two or three abandoned cars that haven’t moved in a year, a couple of defunct pay phones, several tire piles, and at least one trashed couch that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere." Rob Walker on playing Pokémon Go in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward.
"Now I wrote until near dawn, wanting a map of the literary nation, a beautiful evocation of how we are truly a nation of village and city and prairie and brownstone, of Rockies and bayous and mesas. Novels give to every reader someone else’s home. Can we not see this – we of wonder and grievance?" Susan Straight creates a map of America in 737 novels, prompting us to remember the perennial literary question: What is the greatest American novel?
“Life is worth less than a line of Baudelaire’s poetry.” These two lyric essays by Chen Li over at Asymptote Journal are economical and well-worth the read. Though Chen Li is from Taiwan, he writes in Chinese; this syllabus of Chinese writing and the “New China” from Casey Walker at The Millions pairs quite nicely.
William Weaver, Italo Calvino’s longtime translator, writes about the pair’s “complex relationship,” their “consuming passion for words,” and the Cosmicomics author’s travels through “his invisible cities, cities of ideas, or perhaps ideas masquerading as cities.”
"I had invented a writing table out of a wheelbarrow in the coal bunker, just beyond a wall from where a dynamo ran. It made a deep, constant humming noise. There was no more work to do until about 4 a.m., when we would have to clean the fires and get up steam again." The University of Mississippi power plant where William Faulkner wrote his self-styled "tour-de-force" As I Lay Dying is slated to be demolished. Here's a nice, complementary piece on slowing down to read Faulkner.