Recommended Reading: Jenny Diski on our lost words. “So I had a thought about writing a book for the elderly, the old. Those who have lost their words more comprehensively than the friends around our lunch table, but haven’t lost themselves entirely. A book about where all the words go, where after a time they find the others and collaborate to make sentences.”
Lisa Peet at Open Letters Monthly / Likefire blog on Millions contributor Sonya Chung‘s novel Long for This World: “When a novel, particularly a debut novel, is referred to as ‘ambitious,’ there’s usually an implicit ‘but’ present… Chung takes on the dynamics of family—what draws it together and what pulls it apart—through the eyes of a number of players, male and female, old and young, Korean and Korean-American. Both her subject matter and her approach are ambitious, to say the least. The only ‘but’ in my reaction, however, is but she pulls it off—and admirably.” Read the full review.
Geoff Dyer endorses Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station , John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead –our own Bill Morris loves it too!–and a generalized aversion toward seafood in his interview with Morten Høi Jensen for Book Forum. While they ostensibly met to talk about Zona–reviewed on The Millions here–it’s perhaps unsurprising that they managed to digress so liberally: “we chatted about his review of Richard Bradford’s Martin Amis: the Biography, and by the end he was giving me advice about which David Markson book I should read first. Our interview, in other words, assumed the shape of a Geoff Dyer book.”
“The idea that a ‘book of the year’ can be assessed annually by a bunch of people – judges who have to read almost a book a day – is absurd, as is the idea that this is any way of honouring a writer.” Amit Chaudhuri in The Guardian about why the Man Booker Prize “is bad for writers.” And in these pages, Mark O’Connell asks why we care about literary awards at all.
“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.
At this point, we’re all familiar with Cheryl Strayed’s transformative solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail that she wrote about in Wild. Yet at Condé Nast Traveler, she discusses how a recent family vacation to Laos reawakened her passion for travel. “Here we were on a sacred hill so far off from the place from which we had come, and so abundantly thankful for it. Perhaps the power of that very gratitude is the reason I travel.”