“This seems to me the much more complex human truth … that for every theorist of the physical, as with every brainless brawler out in front of a tavern, there is a spot in him in which he aspires to the spirit. Always the flickering of the spiritual in which we reach for better. This is the ambition that changes those who aspire to it.” Here is the latest installment in The Literary Hub’s brave, groundbreaking series “Rick Moody: Life Coach.” This week finds Moody urging his reader along a path of nonviolence. Last time he took on crying.
Christine Sismondo believes bars deserve more credit for “produc[ing] a particular type of public sphere in colonial America.” She discusses her new book America Walks Into a Bar with The Smithsonian’s Rebecca Dalzell.
For Angelenos: Elif Batuman will be reading from The Possessed tonight at 7:00 at the LAPL Central Library. A conversation with LA Times Books Editor David Ulin follows the reading. More information and reservations here (tickets are free).
In 1986, six years before the publication of The Secret History, Donna Tartt was chosen as the student speaker of her graduating class at Bennington College. A typewritten copy of the speech was recently unearthed, in which she looks back upon her education and the college campus that inspired her first novel. Pair with this comprehensive list of the artworks in Tartt’s The Goldfinch.
Writing for Vouched Books (of which I’ve raved previously), Tyler Gobble dedicates his “Best Thing I’ve Read This Week” column to Laurie Saurborn Young’s Patriot chapbook. The work collects thirteen poems – each entitled “Patriot” – which “craft as they go a sense of living, having lived, the naming as a startling mechanism to remind just how much there is here, right here, hello.”
My essay on Zadie Foster Franzenides and the current state of literary aesthetics is in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine.