Nabokov played (and frequently wrote about) chess; J.K. Rowling plays Minecraft, though it has yet to appear in any kind of Harry Potter spin-off. And why shouldn’t she? After all, “there’s a long tradition of other authors turning to a variety of such games – mostly as light relief from their vocation, but also sometimes finding writerly inspiration.”
“Were you happy? With Green it’s likelier you were in love, attuned to the littlest differences, rapt at eventless descriptions that should be boring but aren’t, in awe of the way a cut-rate bunch of flowers is described, interpreting each symbol as a sign, sickened when your interpretation failed.” On the novels of Henry Green.
I didn’t expect to find a Chinese poem more ornate than Su Hui’s palindromic, pre-oulipan “Xuanji Tu,” but apparently I underestimated myself. Here’s “Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den,” a 92-character poem by Yuen Ren Chao which relies on the tonal variations of a single sound (shi) to tell the story of a “lion addict” with a taste for big cats. For a really crazy experience, I recommend listening to the poem being read aloud.
J. K. Rowling will receive the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award “for her efforts to fight inequality and censorship”. Rowling joins the likes of Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, and Tom Stoppard. Our own Garth Risk Hallberg reflects on the magic of the Harry Potter series with librarian Cynthia Oakes.
We like big books and we cannot lie. But are books just continuing to get longer and longer? A new survey of bestsellers has concluded that the average book is now 25% bigger than its counterpart fifteen years ago. The Guardian investigates. Mark O’Connell at The Millions has his own theory about long books.