This is an interview in which five-year-old Desmond and eight-year-old Everett ask some hard-hitting questions of M. Quint regarding her new book The Defiant, and in which Jonathan Lethem makes a brief cameo to helpfully facilitate the discussion–do you need any more reason to read this piece? Here’s a quick hit from C. Max Magee, creator of The Millions, on giving the classics to kids.
Here are the first lines of some wonderful short stories from Bukowksi, Kafka, and Barthelme illustrated with simple 8 bit images. And here are eleven American movie posters rendered by artist Murat Palta in the style of classic Ottoman art. I especially dig the one based on Scarface.
“Can we ever pinpoint a person’s true identity? … How can we point to something in the world with complete accuracy, without also being meaninglessly redundant? Harpo’s answer to ‘who are you?’ is a visual-gag version of the Buddha’s infuriatingly honest answer to the same question. When asked who he was, he would say, gesturing to himself: I am thathagatha (the one who is like this).” On Groucho Marx, nihilism, and the destruction of comedy over at Slate.
“What a horrible silent noisy people they are … My feeling toward those mice is flat-out fear. It has to do with the unexpected, unbidden, unavoidable, virtually silent, persistent, ulteriorly motivated appearance of these animals.” It looks like Franz Kafka really didn’t like mice. Reiner Stach, author of the definitive two-part biography of Kafka (The Decisive Years and The Years of Insight) has released a new book of Kafka ephemera called Is That Kafka? 99 Finds full of fascinating facts that never found a place in the biographies at large. This Millions review of Stach’s biographies might also suit your Kafka fancy.
“Yehuda Amichai’s genius lies in how—to borrow from his own language—he makes metaphor ‘useful.’ He thinks metaphorically, and in so doing he makes stories of them, treating his likenesses as if they were not metaphorical but animated literalisms. That’s why, I suspect, his metaphors have not merely poetic power but practical vitality, in the way that a horse is not only alive but usefully alive.” Every time James Wood publishes a big profile in The New Yorker, it’s worth a read; this week’s essay on the “secular psalmist” and poet Yehuda Amichai is no different.
“So, each year, I can’t help but ask: Is there a political point to be made for calling non-book related detritus, tchotchkes, sparkly twinkly things, sidelines instead of gifts, as many of my esteemed colleagues insist on calling all things?” When it comes to the pressures of running an independent bookstore during the holidays, Lucy Kogler at The Literary Hub gets it very right. Our own Janet Potter has waxed poetic about bookstores, as well.