Year in Reading alumna Parul Sehgal’s column for The New York Times debuted last week with her reflections on the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. As she puts it, “He is a spider of a writer: subtle and sly, patient, with invisible designs. He never proclaims — he never needs to. He envelops.” Pair with John Yargo’s Millions essay on Hrabal’s fiction.
“The blackly comic energy of Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts—its caustic ebullience, the strange buoyancy of its suffering—is a remarkably American achievement, a kind of death-dance capered on the corpse of a vividly rendered early 1930s Manhattan.” On Miss Lonelyhearts, the darkest American masterpiece.
Bat Segundo bags his biggest fish yet: John UpdikeOn their blog, the Freakonomics guys are looking for poker players to help them with an experiment, but the bigger news is that the post reveals a sequel to the bestseller is in the works.Part one of a interview with book designer Paul Buckley of Penguin Book Group – includes lots of examples of his work.John Batelle doesn’t mind that pirated copies of his book The Search are being sold on the streets of Mumbai.
“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.
Litographs is a Massachusetts-based company that uses literature as inspiration for their designs. The text becomes the basis for the design. (Check out this example for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.) They’re launching a new Kickstarter campaign on Tuesday in which you can make a custom Litograph with whatever text you want. Pretty cool, right?
“By the time Mr. Bass bought the building for $8.2 million in 1997, the Strand had become the largest used-book store in the world.” Fred Bass, the owner of the Strand, has died at the age of 89. Bass — who bought used books with panicked fervor, opened up satellite kiosks, and created the fabled literary quiz for prospective employees — turned his father’s used bookstores into a New York City literary landmark.