“With thirteen other diners, the two professors of English first prepared and then made their way through eight courses, including beef broth, haddock, steak, mutton, chicken, and chocolate profiteroles….The dinner was a recreation of one eaten 132 years earlier, in one of England’s grandest country houses. Among the guests at this first dinner was George Scharf, founding director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, a man not especially famous in his own day and virtually unknown in ours.” Love Among the Archives brings us into the world of George Scharf, a bachelor affectionately deemed “The Most Boring Man in the World.”
"In the years before my book came out, I was writing frantically. I remember a week when I was working late at my job, late enough that the buses had stopped running and I had to take a cab home, and I still wrote into the night, trying to finish an essay I had promised an editor. Now I see that I was trying to race against time. I had believed, however irrationally, that there would be a moment beyond which my voice would be taken away from me and I would no longer be able to write." On writing and tenacity.
New this week: The State We’re In by Ann Beattie; Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner; The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips; The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton; In The Language of Miracles by Najia Hassib; Still Life Las Vegas by James Sie; and Subway Stations of the Cross by Ins Choi. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
Elie Wiesel -- Auschwitz survivor, Nobel Laureate, political activist, and author of Night -- passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Here's a quote that perfectly captures Wiesel's essence, from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech: "I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe."
"The appropriate term for what both [David Foster] Wallace and [Roger] Federer did, however, perhaps isn’t synthesis; more apt would be the Hegelian term, aufheben, which can mean a great many things – to lift up, to abolish, to cancel, to suspend, to sublate, to preserve, to transcend – all at once, where two existing terms are abolished, sublated, transcended by way of the orchestration of a collision between them, out of which a new term emerges, which then itself goes in search of a partner with which to collide." A really fantastic review of David Foster Wallace's String Theory from 3:AM Magazine.