Recommended Reading: This excerpt from The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains by Thomas Laqueur. In it, Laqueur explores the cultural peculiarities of mourning and the necrobotany of the yew tree, or “tree of the dead.”
Fans of Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, often know that he had an earlier career as an ad agency illustrator, but how many of them know he was also an amateur taxidermist? “His father, superintendent of parks in Springfield, Mass., occasionally sent him antlers, bills and horns from deceased zoo animals,” reports NPR, elements that Geisel then integrated into fantastical wall sculptures.
“Unable to replicate the success of his first novel [The Loom of Youth],” writes Philip Quarles, “[Alec Waugh] did create a lasting impact by being credited with inventing the cocktail party when he shocked guests by serving, instead of afternoon tea, rum swizzles.”
The nominees for the 2011 PEN/Faulkner fiction award have been announced. The books in the running are Millions Hall of Famer A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Egan profiled at The Millions); The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg (Eisenberg profiled at The Millions); National Book Award winner Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon; Model Home by Eric Puchner (one of our “20 More Under 40“); and Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives by Brad Watson (Brad Watson’s Year in Reading 2009).
Pretty good deal on Amazon today: All the e-book versions of the “Best American” books are $1.99.