This week in Bookends: in which Thomas Mallon and Pankaj Mishra muse on which writer’s journals are really worth reading. Here’s a bonus Millions piece on Bookends for all those New York Times devotees.
J.K. Rowling is one of the most successful writers in the world, but the one person she wanted to see her success never got to — her mother. “She never knew about Harry Potter – I started writing it six months before she died, so that is painful. I wish she’d known,” she said during an interview with BBC Radio 4. She discussed her mother’s death, multiple sclerosis, rugby, and more when she guest edited an edition of “Woman’s Hour.”
Last week, I wrote about Kathryn Schulz’s innovative interview with David Mitchell, which took place on a walk along the Irish coastline. Now, in a nice complement to our own review from today, Pico Iyer reviews the author’s latest. Sample quote: “A perfectly matter-of-fact, unvarnished evocation of how regular folks speak, married to a take-no-prisoners fascination with all that we can’t explain.” Our review of The Bone Clocks was published today.
On August 1st, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia. Also, Franz Kafka went swimming. Moreover, the Metamorphosis author mentioned both events in his diary, writing simply and strangely that “Germany has declared war on Russia — went swimming in the afternoon.” Was this odd phrasing intentional or a sign of the author’s self-absorption? In an article for Open Letters Monthly, Robert Minto reads all three volumes of Reiner Stach’s new biography.
“The point of a party is to make us forget we are solitary, wretched and betrothed to death; in other words, to transform us into animals.” Michel Houellebecq offers some handy tips, over at The Believer. Pair with this Millions review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory.
For two weeks last summer, Colin Dickey sailed around the coast of Svalbard in the Arctic Circle. On one occasion, his voyage was stalled by heavy fog, and his group was obligated to anchor near Amsterdamøya. As one does, he used the occasion to ruminate about scurvy – or “polar night disease” – which claimed the lives of many sailors buried in the area’s graves.
Who killed the literary critic?: “In the age of blogging, great critics appear to be on life support. Salon’s book reviewers discuss snobbery, how to make criticism fun and the need for cultural gatekeepers.” The ongoing, seemingly never ending discussion of the death of literature and criticism continues, though Salon’s interest in “how to make criticism fun” is a promising sign.Online used book marketplace AbeBooks looks at the yearbook collecting subculture. The most expensive yearbook to every be sold on the site? The Ole Miss Yearbook 1921 containing “William Faulkner’s poem, ‘Nocturne,’ in facsimile of the author’s stylized printing over a two-page spread along with several Faulkner drawings.”Buzz presents the Nixon Rock on his Madonna of the Toast blog.Carolyn has been on an enviable literary-themed roadtrip. Luckily we can read along at home.