Recommended Reading: On Carmen Balcells, “The Woman Behind Latin America’s Literary Boom,” in The New Yorker. Her authors called her “Big Mama” after Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s queen of Macondo. She worked with many of the authors included on our Latin American Nobel Candidates list.
New this week: The Brunist Day of Wrath by Robert Coover; Frog Music by Emma Donoghue; Off Course by Michelle Huneven; And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass; Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland; The Ballad of a Small Player by Lawrence Osborne; Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman; and The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2014 Book Preview.
In 1952, John Steinbeck wrote that Al Capp, the cartoonist and Lil’ Abner creator, might well have been the best writer working in the world at the time. In the Times, Andy Webster reviews a new biography of Capp, which reveals that underneath it all lay “a toxic chip on his shoulder.”
“To age is to understand that the powers of total recovery are gone, are no longer anticipated (except by those who, having lost their marbles, no longer know what to anticipate).” The epistolary legacy of writers such as Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, and Elizabeth Bishop offers invaluable insight into the process of growing older, writes Robert Fay for The Atlantic. See also our own Lydia Kiesling on the narrative possibilities of leaked emails.
College football season is upon us, and I’d be remiss not to highlight the recent flood of fantastic writing on my favorite televised sport. Most striking is Pulitzer Prize-winner Taylor Branch‘s Atlantic article “The Shame of College Sports.” It’s accompanied by several other takes on the issue. In regards to academia, this New York Times piece on the University of Chicago’s football team demonstrates that tension between educators and football fans is nothing new. (A sentiment the paper illustrated in a 2006 piece on Ivy League football.) However, as Gregg Easterbrook notes, major football programs can also demonstrate success in the classroom as well. Finally, and on a purely emotional level, I will always seize any opportunity to share this fantastic ESPN story by Eric Adelson.