The mystery of the skull that might once have sat between the shoulders of one William Shakespeare will remain unresolved for now. A senior church lawyer for St. Leonard’s Church in Beoley, Redditch, has barred the group of curious clergymen from removing the skull for DNA testing. Alas, poor William.
“In its clumsy, ad hoc way, Facebook has brought death back into the public sphere in a way death hasn’t been for more than 100 years.” To celebrate Facebook’s 10th birthday, The Missouri Review has unlocked its Alexander Landfair essay on how we deal with death on Facebook. For another look at Facebook, read our essay on how the timeline changes the way we tell stories.
In the wake of Jonathan Franzen‘s much discussed New Yorker essay on Edith Wharton, Laura Miller defends readers who look to an author’s life to aid their understanding of a given work: ” Byron’s clubfoot, Flannery O’Connor’s lupus, Coleridge’s opium addiction and whatever was wrong with Hemingway do interest many readers because these factors shaped the life experiences from which the great work sprang.”
Out this week: Some Luck by Jane Smiley; Reunion by Hannah Pittard; The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue; Man V. Nature by Diane Cook; The Hilltop by Assaf Gavron; The Hundred Days by Joseph Roth; The Figures of Beauty by David MacFarlane; There Must Be Some Mistake by Frederick Barthelme; Citizen by Claudia Rankine; and Lila by Marilynne Robinson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
“For about 15 years, every time I had a really good dance party that went late, with people lolling around drunk and exhausted, at about 2 a.m., I would hand out paper and ask everyone to draw a vomiting cat. . . . I ended up with an incredibly thick file of drawings, some by people who went on to be published cartoonists and writers.” The New York Times reports that (Year in Reading alum) Jonathan Lethem has sold his papers to Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, a trove that includes comic books, manuscript drafts, notes, letters, and yes, drawings of vomiting cats. You can read our review of Lethem’s Dissident Gardens, which may or may not feature hairballs in a crucial plot point, here.
At Salon, Kyle Minor listens to an audiobook recording of Joan Didion’s Salvador and finds that it remains “immediately relevant to a new reader whose memory of its context is more the kind of memory that arises from having read books about history than one that arises from having been old enough in 1983 to understand the meaning of phrases such as death squad, or body count, or mechanism of terror.”