Recommended Listening: Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life, on Otherppl with Brad Listi. “It was draining in ways that I didn’t really realize until the book was done.” Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s piece on life in the works of Yanagihara and Atticus Lish.
The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder “what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”
David Gessner thinks Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey are more relevant than they’ve ever been. Why? Their stories about the West anticipated the California drought. At Salon, Gessner explains why, among other things, Stegner spent much of his life debunking Western individualism.
“Ich am Geoffrey Chaucer, and my litel poeme the Parliament of Foweles was the first to combyne the peanut buttir of Februarye the XIVth wyth the milk chocolate of wooing. And so Ich feel responsible to helpe wyth sum advyce on thys daye.” Love advice from Chaucer, via NPR.
“They would have closed, if the community hadn’t stepped forward.” The Guardian reports on the rapidly growing number of British libraries being run by volunteers, a trend driven by austerity cuts (which Corinne Purtill wrote about in these very pages just a few weeks ago).