Adding to the general hand-wringing over the state of the humanities, Lee Siegel contradicts Leon Wieseltier’s lament that fewer college students are majoring in literature by contending that modern literature courses ruin the joy of reading. “For every college professor who made Shakespeare or Lawrence come alive for the lucky few,” he writes, “there were countless others who made the reading of literary masterpieces seem like two hours in the periodontist’s chair.” (You can also read a similar argument from a humanities professor in The New Republic.)
“I don’t want to write ‘funny’ books where we all have to laugh our heads of all the time. The humor should come from behind, where we don’t expect it. And the life of a well-known writer is something you can laugh about quite easily.” On the occasion of his new novel Dear Mr. M, our own Claire Cameron interviews Herman Koch over at Salon.
Penguin is putting out snazzy, mesmerizing, jacket-less hardcover editions of a number of classics. These remind of the old books on my parents’ shelves. You won’t be able to get your hands on these for a few months though.
“Puzzled as to why her mother had not figured out “Miriam” on her own — or why, after Capote became famous, she did not say much about her letter and his answer — Ms. Akers sought clues.” The New York Times writes about recently discovered letter from Truman Capote to a young reader who misunderstood his first published story. Read our own Michael Bourne on the tragedy of Capote’s life.