Jonathan Franzen knows a lot about birds. The novelist competed on Jeopardy’s “Power Players Week” alongside Chuck Todd and S.E. Cupp as part of a variation on the Celebrity Jeopardy theme. Franzen flubbed a few questions about Shakespeare which, ironically, served to help dispel some of the “old curmudgeon” reputation that has followed him for years. This piece from The Millions on the case for non-Ikea writing in the Age of Franzen might interest you.
Have you taken advantage of NYRB Classics’ Winter Sale yet? A whole bunch of their books are listed with 50% discounts! Why not check out The Radiance of the King, which was recommended this past Year in Reading by Deborah Eisenberg? (And also recommended by Junot Díaz back in our 2007 edition of the series, too.)
“While guys spent time in these Seg cells calling out chess moves over the walkways or doing push-ups until their veins bulged from their temples, I was in my cell pecking away trying to create a different world for myself. Some kind of way I felt I could rewrite my future.” For The New Yorker‘s Page-Turner blog, Daniel A. Gross tells the story of the Swintec Corporation, the nation’s sole supplier of clear typewriters, whose largest market is prisons. Pair with our own Bill Morris on using his Royal to write.
“Every story that works gets the level of description that it needs. Which isn’t to say that the level of description needed for every successful story is the same.” Tobias Carroll surveys the wide variety of detail density in fiction for Electric Literature.
When Arthur Conan Doyle wasn’t writing Sherlock Holmes, he was a practicing doctor. Thomas Goetz’s new book The Remedy discusses the history of tuberculosis and Doyle’s role in finding a cure with Robert Koch. The Daily Beast interviewed Goetz about how he came up with the idea for the book. “These two characters were part of a much larger story about how scientific discoveries evolve into social change.”
Make of this what you will, but when Lorde first read Year in Reading alum Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, it struck her as “the best collection [she’d] ever read.” Her interview with Tavi Gevinson in Rookie reveals that she also loves Raymond Carver and Claire Vaye Watkins.