Part Into the Wild, part Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Howard Axelrod’s The Point of Vanishing is the story of his two years spent in profound solitude in the Vermont wilderness. Called “torture” by prison rights activists and “a threat to mental stability” by psychologists, Axelrod’s decision to sequester himself from society was nothing if not extreme. Alexander Supertramp would be proud.
My mom pointed out this article in the Washington Post about a bookstore in Baltimore that primarily gives away books rather than selling them. It’s called the Book Thing:”That’s the whole thing with the Book Thing,” Wattenberg says. “All I am is a middleman. The people have books…. They give them to me, they’re happy to have a place to see them go somewhere, and the people that get the books are happy to get the books.”Also, file under conspicuous consumption: Anyone looking for an extravagant gift for the film buff in their life should look no further.Spotted on the el: The Travels of Marco Polo… sure the red line doesn’t go all the way to China, but we can dream.
David Lodge never set out to be a writer of campus novels, but that may end up being his legacy, thanks to his most famous books, Changing Places and Small World. In the LRB, Stefan Collini reviews a new book of essays and an autobiography by the author, the latter of which covers the first forty years of his life.
Cage the Elephant is considered one of the best young indie rock acts today, but the band got its start in the burgeoning music scene in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Sometime Millions contributor Craig Fehrman wrote a Kindle Single on Cage the Elephant and its influential hometown, Home Grown: Cage the Elephant and the Making of a Modern Music Scene. You can read his past Millions essays on the history of literary Time covers, Lewis Hyde’s understanding of intellectual property, and an ethnography of readers at Borders.
The Morning News has just launched a series on contemporary Russian literature. For this week’s installment Anna Starobinets provides an exerpt of her debut manuscript, An Awkward Age, and chats about her writing with Elizabeth Kiem. In the New Yorker, Sally McGrane profiles Boris Akunin, Russian writer of potboilers and political dissident.