Football Book Club is back from its relaxing bye week — and in preparation of the impending Environmental End Times, these truly decent, patriotic human beings are reading The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert. So pick up your copy today, read along, and learn how we’re fucking up the planet in ways you never even imagined possible. Also: if this week’s book is making you feel slightly depressed and/or down in the dumps and/or bummed, check back with FBC all week for essays on Speak by Louisa Hall.
Last week, JK Rowling announced that, midway through writing the Harry Potter series, she nearly killed off Ron Weasley “out of spite.” Ron isn’t the first supporting character to narrowly avoid death in an author’s rough draft. The Awl illustrates some of literature’s other close calls with death.
“By the time Mr. Bass bought the building for $8.2 million in 1997, the Strand had become the largest used-book store in the world.” Fred Bass, the owner of the Strand, has died at the age of 89. Bass — who bought used books with panicked fervor, opened up satellite kiosks, and created the fabled literary quiz for prospective employees — turned his father’s used bookstores into a New York City literary landmark.
I’ve written before about the First Sentence series at Granta. The magazine asks a prominent writer to explain how they came to write an opening line. Recently, they asked Bear Down, Bear North author Melinda Moustakis to talk about the beginning of her story “River So Close”: “She’s a good-for-nothing chummer.” You could also read Jonathan Russell Clark on the art of the opening sentence.
Recommended reading: Brandon Ambrosino interviews Justin Martin, author of Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians, about, well, Walt Whitman and America’s first bohemians.
Ad-driven e-books may be something we’ll all have to deal with in the future. At the Melville House blog, Dustin Kurtz explains why ads that pop up while a person is reading might well be an inevitable development. (If you’re like me, your reaction to this is simple: ugh.)
Remember when Little Red Riding Hood was eaten by a hyena? Wait, that’s not the folktale we know. Whether or not Little Red Riding Hood gets eaten depends on where you hear the famous folktale, but anthropologist Jamie Tehrani discovered the origins of the scarlet-hooded girl — Belgium.