Look, it’s hard being the bloodthirsty kingpin of a multinational drug smuggling cartel. Apparently Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has been feeling a bit sorry for himself post-capture, so what did Eduardo Guerrero, head of Mexico’s prison systems, think would cheer him up? He brought him a copy of Don Quixote.
In 1979, William Gaddis taught a course at Bard College on “The Literature of Failure,” examining works that somehow focused on personal failure or insufficiency. These included, among other books, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays, as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In Bookforum, Casey Michael Henry takes on a related genre: the literature of obsolescence. You could also read James Cappio on meeting Gaddis in person.
“But upon learning that the unmarried 60-something Ms. Welty was a fan, the 50-something Macdonald — Ken Millar, to use his real name, as he does in these letters — dashed off a note of thanks. A reply followed within a week.” On a new book of letters between Eudora Welty and Ross MacDonald. You could also read Jonathan Clarke on the letters of Willa Cather.
“To survive, we learned to be great actresses. We cocked our heads just so, we laughed with just the right lilt, we batted our eyelashes and pursed our lips. Sometimes we were innocent, weak and in need of protection; other times we teased and tortured, until our customers raged for release.” Beautiful new fiction by Karissa Chen for Catapult.
“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.