Recommended recommendations: The Airship has rounded up the best recent additions to Project Gutenberg, the online collection of free digitized books.
In a short biographical piece for Open Letters Monthly, Sam Sacks writes about the book reviewing career of Katherine Mansfield and the ways in which it "helped her build the writing muscles needed" to finish her masterful short stories. While some critics might take umbrage at the way Sacks characterizes Mansfield as "turning out deadline copy like an ink-stained Fleet Street hack," his look into her reviews culminates in the realization that "the point [of reviewing books] is not to be constructive but to construct something of lasting value in the little space and little time you’re granted. Like all writing, it should be a passion, not a pastime. The point is to dazzle."
What if Petrarch had blurbed The Divine Comedy, or Shakespeare, "author of Tony Award-winning sensation Hamlet," had reviewed Don Quixote? Tom Rachman imagines these blurbs and more for The Rumpus, and his piece pairs well with our brief history of the blurb.
Philosopher Slavoj Žižek doesn't seem very happy these days. Yesterday he published a harsh response to the lukewarm reception NYRB and the Guardian gave his recently published opus, Less Than Nothing. And his declaration that "99% of people are boring idiots" in an recent interview does little to soften his image.