We lost another great one this week in Alan Rickman. He will be remembered forever by fans of the Harry Potter series as the maybe-evil, maybe-heroic professor Severus Snape, but the Potter series wasn’t Rickman’s only brush with the literary. Here are a few recordings of him reading from Shakespeare, Proust, and Thomas Hardy.
“Could I write a novel about fugues in the form of a fugue?” Margot Singer wonders in The Paris Review, remembering the process of writing her first novel and considering other authors – Joyce, Nabokov, Woolf – who have tried to compose words musically. See also: our own Jacob Lambert on whether to write with background music on.
Infographic of the Week: Famous authors had day jobs, too. Check out this infographic from Adzuna to find out what J.M. Coetzee, George R.R. Martin, J. K. Rowling, and more did before (or while) they published novels. Our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about the struggle to balance a day job and a creative life.
If you missed Apple’s “Education Announcement” last Thursday, you can check out Peter Kafka’s play-by-play coverage of the event for AllThingsD. The whole affair made quite a splash because the biggest publishers in the world today are education publishers. The star of the show was iBooks 2, and it has many people talking: some view it as education publishing’s savior, some fear it, and others think its EULA is downright creepy. At least one person believes the whole idea might’ve been the brain child of a lowly intern. And, finally, what should we make of Steve Jobs’ 1996 admission that “what’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology?”
In its treatment of the poor, Britain may be “going back to the Middle Ages,” says Booker repeat winner Hilary Mantel. Indeed, she explains, “In some respects … Cromwell lived in a more enlightened time.” And she’s not the only high profile UK author to come to the side of government welfare these days. In a two–part interview for The Daily Show, J.K. Rowling notes that she couldn’t have written her first books without government “benefits.”
It’s a big week for new books. Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke is now out, as is Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy, Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge, and The Funny Man by John Warner, who recently appeared in these pages. Philip Roth’s American Trilogy is getting the Library of America treatment. (Capsule previews of all of the preceding titles are available here, incidentally). New in non-fiction is Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin. And out in paperback: none other than Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.