“I was interested enough in WikiLeaks, state transparency, and emergent opposition networks to do five years in prison over such things, but I wasn’t interested enough that I would have voluntarily plowed through 500 pages of badly plotted failed-marriage razzmatazz by an author who’s long past his expiration date simply in order to learn what the Great King of the Honkies thinks about all this.” Barrett Brown reviews Jonathan Franzen’s Purity from prison. Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s review of the book.
Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding is ubiquitous. We tapped it in our Second Half of 2011 Preview. n+1 bundled it with year-long subscriptions. The Awl interviewed the author. The New Yorker's Book Club picked it as their September book. It was reviewed in The New York Times. Now Keith Gessen's expanded his Vanity Fair piece on the novel's development into a standalone e-book. In light of all this hype, McNally Jackson's Tumblr provides a poignant list of baseball puns for reviewers to start avoiding.
On the persistent popularity and flexibility of Cinderella, from old folktales featuring talking gourds all the way to the upcoming Disney version, from NPR.
As evidenced by the amazing quiz “Jonathan Franzen Gripe or YouTube Comment about Saggy Pants,” a perception exists that the widely acclaimed writer is allergic to new technology. At Slate, Benjamin Nugent argues that Franzen’s new book, The Karl Kraus Project, proves inadvertently that Franzen is less of a Luddite than we think.
This past Wednesday Tracy K. Smith officially began her term as the new U.S. Poet Laureate. After adding her name to the guest book traditionally signed by poet laureates upon the start of their one year term, she read aloud from previously published poetry collections and introduced new work. Ron Charles from the Washington Post reports "[a]mong her most powerful new pieces were 'found poems' constructed from archival letters that African American veterans sent to President Lincoln asking for pensions they were owed." Smith is the first poet laureate appointed by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. Stay tuned for her upcoming efforts to engage rural communities in poetry discussions.