“It’s part of Jane Austen’s genius that she can bring the maximum of drama and momentousness to the most minimal of occasions.” Here is David Denby from The New Yorker on reading (and listening to) Austen’s Emma, which is celebrating its two-hundredth year in print. We’ve brought you a bunch of bits on Austen in the past.
Every book reviewer has probably, at one point or another, savaged a book a bit too savagely. But if given the opportunity, would you recant? Would you admit that you’d overstepped? Would you feel good about doing so? At an event last month, Snowball’s Chance author John Reed hosted an event at which NBCC critics did exactly that.
Olivia Laing has written an entire book about male writers and their relationships with alcohol, The Trip to Echo Spring, but in a piece for The Guardian she returns to the subject of writers and drink in order to respond to the question, what about women writers? Were any of them alcoholics? “Yes,” she writes, “of course.” She goes on to discuss the lives and work of Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, Elizabeth Bishop and Patricia Highsmith, their reasons for drinking and their experiences in a society much more willing to accept the struggles of men than of women. For more from Laing, be sure to check out her Year in Reading for 2013.
Have some fun with this New York specific feature highlighted by Atlas Obscura. The New York Society Library is private member-based library and it has some pretty famous members, going all the way back to Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Due to the library’s excellent record keeping you can trace these famous members reading histories. “In the early 20th century, Library staff switched from big, blank ledger books to index cards for record keeping. Henceforth they archived cards only for “prominent” members, discarding the rest. The gap is major, but the surviving cards offer a lifetime of book recommendations.”
Over at Public Books, Jared Gardner explores the theme of pain and illness at the heart of many graphic narratives. As he explains it, “Illness, mental and physical, is arguably comics’ invisible master theme, deeply woven into their genome and shaping the stories they tell, from the earliest newspaper strips (chronic allergies in Winsor McCay’s Little Sammy Sneeze) through the rise of superhero comics (from Batman’s PTSD in 1939 through the Fantastic Four’s radiation poisoning in 1961).” Pair with Paul Morton’s Millions piece on the history of Marvel Comics.