“Are you sure you need to give me that summer reading list-library flyer-academic camp brochure? Are you sure that I can’t just let my kids get dumber by 1/3rd until they come back here in the fall like we all used to?” Are you sure there isn’t anything I can do? Welcome to every teacher’s nightmare, courtesy of McSweeney’s.
“Like reading, love works in roughly the same way every time, but the details of any given case are irreducibly particular, and it’s in the details that everything happens.” Lidija Haas on Elif Batuman’s debut novel, The Idiot. (You could also read our review by Virginia Marshall.)
“Despite a glut of English translations (well over a hundred, by my count),” writes Dante scholar Robert Pogue Harrison, “New versions of the entire [Divine Comedy] poem or individual canticles continue to appear in rapid succession—six in the last decade alone.” Over at the New York Review of Books, he investigates three of the latest: Dan Brown’s Inferno, Mary Jo Bang’s Inferno, and Clive James’s Divine Comedy.
“There used to be a time when people read literature to confront stuff. To experience things vicariously—whether it’s a forbidden scene or a forbidden idea. I think now we’re looking to literature for an escape from that. I’m not sure why that is.” Guernica interviews Marlon James, whose most recent novel A Brief History of Seven Killings was reviewed on the Book Report.
After earning herself a “test run” writer’s residency aboard an Amtrak train, Jessica Gross reflects on the virtues and benefits of writing by railcar. Meanwhile, Alexander Chee announces he’ll be writing on the rails from New York City to Portland this Spring. You can read some more information about the program over here.