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.
American Short Fiction’s managing editor Jess Stoner is reading local newspapers from one state a week and reporting on the big headlines in a better attempt to understand America. As she puts it, “Not to snark, not to make fun of people from unincorporated towns who write letters to the editor, but to share with you a more complicated, less yell-y look at where we are, with the hopes of better understanding where we might be headed.” The first state is Alabama.
Every book reviewer has probably, at one point or another, savaged a book a bit too savagely. But if given the opportunity, would you recant? Would you admit that you’d overstepped? Would you feel good about doing so? At an event last month, Snowball’s Chance author John Reed hosted an event at which NBCC critics did exactly that.
Millions contributor Kaya Genç reports on Istos, a Greek-owned publishing house based in Istanbul, Turkey, that’s “interested in challenging the partial, nostalgic stereotype of the old Greek community as a fashionable elite.” Meanwhile, across town, the Çağlayan Courts of Justice shocked the Turkish literati with a warning for the Sel Publishing House: stop publishing the “obscene” works of writers like William Burroughs and Chuck Palahniuk.
Year in Reading Alum Alexander Chee reviews Rick Moody’s latest release, Hotels of North America. “The present is too cruel for him, and yet he cannot change it, so there is this instead, sentence by sentence, a nod to the past that is really a nod to his own past. A conflation of his nostalgia for the days of his sexual attractiveness and the unencumbered power of white men, all of it dressed up as a love for old words.” To hear more from Moody, check out our recent interview with him.
“Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance by the perpetrators, the public and — worse — the victims. Community members must take action; if we don’t, hate persists.” The always amazing Southern Poverty Law Center has put together “Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide.”
“I have this belief that you have to save at least half of your crucial experiences. The ones that are crystalline. The ones that you always can recall. And you recall that every detail—what actors call a sense impression. You remember how things smelled, what they felt like, how you felt at the moment. You remember every single last part of this episode, or moment in your life.” This interview with Norman Mailer from The Paris Review never actually made it to print, which makes it all the more fascinating.