“Dear Mrs D, Thanks for your homework. Your idea of writing a Christmas ghost story was a good one, but it’s not really the kind of thing I tend to do — it’s a little bit too genre for my tastes. Try Kevin, who sits next to me. He loves that stuff.” Over at McSweeney’s, Nick Hornby advises his son on excuses for failing to hand in his English homework, excuses which Hornby learned are acceptable during a thirty-year career in journalism, books, and film.
When did the air of scandal surrounding Philip Roth give way to a kind of reverence? At a certain point, Roth lost his reputation for controversy. In The New Republic, Adam Kirsch investigates the odd story of Roth’s career, including evidence from Claudia Roth Pierpoint’s new book about the author, Roth Unbound (which we reviewed).
The new novel by Colm Tóibín draws largely from the author’s memories of his father passing away when he was young. In a Guardian essay, the author writes about his discovery that literature can be a vessel for grief, with a nod to the writer and Dublin mainstay Mary Lavin. If you’d like to learn more about Tóibín’s fiction, you can read our pieces on his books.
“This particular moonshot fell about a hundred-million books short of the moon.” Over at The Atlantic James Somers has the story of what went wrong with Google’s audacious plan to digitize all the world’s books. And like an interesting time capsule, you might want to read Robin Sloan in our own pages from some years back about a very, very cool book scanner.