“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.
Cookbooks, in general, are resistant to close reading, if only because their authors are barely present in the text, if at all. Yet sometimes we can discern a personality through the measurements and shopping lists. At Page-Turner, Kathleen Alcott reads the cookbooks of Nigel Slater. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen on reading cookbooks as literature.
Catapult.co, a new literary website and publisher from the founders of Electric Literature and Black Balloon Publishing, has debuted online this week. It features stories by Padgett Powell and Joy Williams, and a remarkable essay about living in New York by Alexander Chee.
Here at The Millions, we know the importance of a book's cover (for evidence see here, here, here and here), so Margaret Sullivan's new project, Jane Austen Cover to Cover, has our attention. A sample of covers for Emma, available on The Paris Review's blog, "provides a fascinating glimpse into a variety of publishing cultures, and it reminds that even our classics are mutable, pitched to appeal to any number of sensibilities, their literary status in constant flux per the dictates of the market."
Middlesex author and Pulitzer Prize winner (and Year in Reading alum) Jeffrey Eugenides has a new story out in this week’s issue of The New Yorker. Titled "Find the Bad Guy," it may well be the first New Yorker story to show a character playing Words with Friends. Sample quote: “She had her arms around me, and we were rocking, real soft-like, the way Meg did after we gave her that kitten, before it died, I mean, when it was just a warm and cuddly thing instead of like it had hoof and mouth, and went south on us.”
Recommended reading: one essay on George Orwell's stomping grounds on the Scottish island where he wrote 1984 in the throes of a tubercular fever, and another on the tiny Indian town of Motihari where he was born.