“What a horrible silent noisy people they are … My feeling toward those mice is flat-out fear. It has to do with the unexpected, unbidden, unavoidable, virtually silent, persistent, ulteriorly motivated appearance of these animals.” It looks like Franz Kafka really didn’t like mice. Reiner Stach, author of the definitive two-part biography of Kafka (The Decisive Years and The Years of Insight) has released a new book of Kafka ephemera called Is That Kafka? 99 Finds full of fascinating facts that never found a place in the biographies at large. This Millions review of Stach’s biographies might also suit your Kafka fancy.
After five years, Lev Grossman has released the final book in his Magicians trilogy, aptly reviewed in the Sunday Times by our own Edan Lepucki. At Slate, the Awl cofounder, Year in Reading alum and novelist Choire Sicha looks back on the series as a whole. After reading through all three entries, Choire poses a simple but hard-to-answer question: is main character Quentin truly the central figure of the books? It might also be a good time to read our interview with Grossman.
“‘Tuya’ means ‘graffiti’ in Chinese—the name is recent—and this street, three-quarters of a mile long, may be the longest stretch of public art in the world. It’s also a government-sanctioned ‘art district,’ centered around the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, which was established in 1940…I noticed that every artist I spoke to referred to 2005 as the year everything changed. 2005 was the year the government became interested in art.” Art in Chongqing.
Male bonding can take many forms, among them the rarely-seen joint book tour, which Mike Harvkey and Josh Weil decided to undertake in support of their new novels. The two write about meeting each other, travelling around America and bouncing ideas off trusted friends in a Salon essay. FYI, our own Bill Morris wrote a piece about his own book tour for The Daily Beast.
I’ve recommended a couple of articles in recent weeks about the new novel by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. Unfortunately, as Liam O’Brien explains at the Melville House blog, it may not be a good idea to read it, especially if you’re impressionable. Why? The book contains a hidden trove of Satanic messages. (h/t The Rumpus)
Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin discusses the lessons he’s learned over the past year. He also gives a shout out to Underground, a film by Serbian director Emir Kusturica. Elsewhere, Zeitlin shares some of the music, books, and movies he’s been enjoying of late.