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.”
Much fuss was made about Barack Obama’s ex-girlfriends this week, as an excerpt from David Maraniss’ forthcoming Barack Obama: The Story was published in Vanity Fair. Of course, we sophisticated book readers care less about the man’s old flames than we do his literary pursuits, right? That’s why Mr. President’s analysis of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” is so interesting.
“One hears, in the news, that one new fad after another is sweeping the academy. World literature, digital humanities, book history, cognitive science. Perhaps everyone will just watch TV (there are twenty-seven panels on The Wire, and at least a paper, I recall, on Rizzoli and Isles, a TNT show)…The elephant in the room, or the one that has left the room a while ago (but whose stinking presence everyone still inhales deeply or holds their nose after), is Theory.” N + 1 reviews MLA 2013.
Earlier today, the Guggenheim Foundation announced this year’s Fellows, and the names on their list include a few that Millions readers will recognize. On the fiction side, there’s contributor Laila Lalami along with Year in Reading alumni Jess Row and Jesse Ball, while in nonfiction and poetry, there’s Amanda Petrusich along with Adam Kirsch, Chris Kraus and Deborah Landau. The winners each receive a sizeable cash grant.