New this week: A Hundred Thousand Words by Bob Proehl; Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner; The Sun in Your Eyes by Deborah Shapiro; The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam; The Swan Book by Alexis Wright; The Life of the World to Come by Dan Cluchey; and Mortal Trash by Kim Addonizio. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
In 1945 and 1946, the FBI began keeping tabs on Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. The Cold War was just around the corner, and the Bureau suspected their new targets were secretly agents of Communism. However, FBI agents who followed the French writers evolved in the course of their spying: they became, in G.K. Chesterton’s phrase, “philosophical policemen.” (h/t Slate)
Beer bongs are never a good idea. Besides the killer hangover you’ll inevitably wake up with the next morning, you might also steal literary art. When Mitchel Potter was a frat boy in 1987, he stole a bronze bust of Robert Frost from Wichita State University and hid it in his basement for 25 years until someone tipped off the police. Ironically, Potter didn’t even know who Frost was, but the prosecutor read “The Road Not Taken” at his trial.
Andrew O’Hagan, whose books have gotten some Booker Prize notice over the years, has a new one out (it’s been out in the UK for a while now) called The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe, which, as the title perhaps suggests, is told in the voice of Monroe’s Scottish maltese poodle called Maf. Also out this week is Tom Clancy’s first new “Jack Ryan” thriller in quite some time, Dead or Alive.
W.H. Auden lived a secret life, not as a man with a second family or an illicit habit but as, weirdly enough, a genuinely kind human being. He paid for a friend’s costly operation and camped outside the apartment of a woman who suffered from night terrors until she felt safe enough to sleep on her own again. So why did the poet want to hide his good deeds? He claimed he didn’t want to be admired for basic decency.
Try out our new “Random Post” button below the search boxes on the sidebar.CJR unveils new software in the quest to stamp out “gotcha journalism.”* Charlie Gibson, September 11, 2008:Question: “Have you ever met a foreign head of state?”Gotcha Quotient: 95Reason: First of all, foreign policy-related questions are incredibly unfair…Tennis reprints David Foster Wallace’s feature essay from its September 1996 issue.Perhaps not the most useful link in these tight times: “The Most Expensive Things I could Find On Amazon.com” (Note: several of these are out of stock. Coincidence?)None of you saw this coming: Rapper Coolio to release his own cookbook.Cindy Sherman’s famous librarian “Untitled Film Still” fetched $900k at a recent auction.
Esquire offers up a terrific time sink, “The 7 Greatest Stories in the History of Esquire Magazine.” Included among these gems of long-form journalism, which are all reprinted in full, is Richard Ben Cramer’s “What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?” which appeared on the list of best sports journalism we ran last month.Not long ago, we discussed the books that first stoked our love for reading. The Guardian takes it one step further, asking “What were your favourite books before you could read?“A brief YouTube profile of Annette Gordon-Reed, National Book Award winner for The Hemingses of Monticello.From The Morning News, a slightly insane, moderately epic profile of Dmitri Nabokov, son of Vladimir.Also from The Morning News, a bit about The Chicagoan, the long-lost New Yorker-esque magazine for the Second City, now memorialized in coffee-table book form. If ever any cities (besides New York of course) could be granted New Yorker-like magazines, Chicago and Los Angeles would be deserving. BoingBoing points to some pdf excerpts of the book.Poll watching savant Nate Silver takes execrable rabble-rouser John Ziegler to task for a dubious survey of Obama supporters. Petulance ensues.