We like big books and we cannot lie. But are books just continuing to get longer and longer? A new survey of bestsellers has concluded that the average book is now 25% bigger than its counterpart fifteen years ago. The Guardian investigates. Mark O’Connell at The Millions has his own theory about long books.
In the latest issue of The New York Review of Books, Jean Strouse brings us inside John Singer Sargent’s inner circle. The exhibition, “Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends,” is on view at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art until October 4th. You could also read Edra Ziesk’s piece on what makes a friend.
A recent survey of 19th century British literature uncovered advertising subtly placed within classic texts by authors like Dickens, Austen, and Thackeray. From Vanity Fair, for example: “‘My sisters say she has diamonds as big as pigeons’ eggs,’ George said, laughing. ‘How they must set off her complexion! Surely she avails herself of Madame A.T. Rowley’s Toilet Mask (or Face Gloves)…’” (via Book Bench)
“Only the moon can judge Indiana. It’s a state that mostly gets ignored, and occasionally ridiculed, by the rest of the country, but no matter. Anyone is welcome to come here and see a reflection of themselves in the unlikeliest places, no matter what any law says.” Adam Fleming Petty on “Writing from the Nowhere State.”
Most readers nurse particular fantasies of stepping into their favorite books. Whether they dream of enrolling at Hogwarts, or signing up for MI6 with James Bond, they usually have a stable of settings that function as a means of escape. So imagine how strange and conflicting it was to be Jonathan Gottschall, the English professor who got a chance to enter Fight Club.
Looking for a way to spice up your short story? Add a ghost. “This is going to sound strange, but what your story really needs is a ghost,” Lorrie Moore said in an interview with The New York Times. She discussed her new professorship at Vanderbilt and her new short story collection, Bark, which, yes, does contain a ghost story.
Do you have 153 hours to kill? Do you love long French masterworks? If so, the folks at Naxos AudioBooks might have something up your alley. At 120-discs, publisher Nicolas Soames believes his company’s unabridged audiobook for Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past might just be the longest audiobook in existence. (Note: that means you’d still have 23 hours of the audiobook left after making this drive around the country.)