Have you looked thoroughly at our Summer Reading List for Wretched Assholes Who Prefer to Wallow in Someone Else’s Misery and still aren’t sure what to read? Maybe this helpful flow chart from the Strand Bookstore, via LitHub, will help you settle on something.
“He was a sassy youngster…[A]s to burning the epistle up or not—it never occurred to me to do anything at all: what the hell did I care whether he was pertinent or impertinent? he was fresh, breezy, Irish: that was the price paid for admission—and enough: he was welcome!” Turns out Walt Whitman and Bram Stoker were pen pals.
If I had been near enough to a computer and had enough time to blog over the last month, I probably would have talked about Nicholson Baker’s new book, Checkpoint. I haven’t read it, so I can only comment on the reactions that I have seen to the book. Most have been negative. The book is about two friends who are sitting in a hotel room having a conversation. One character wants to assassinate President George W. Bush, the other is trying to talk him out of it. The subject matter alone seems to come from a desire to create controversy, and though Baker and his publisher have gone out of their way to condemn violence, Baker has said that he was motivated by his own personal anger to write the book. If you ask me, controversial subject matter + short book (115 pages in this case) + rush to press = literary publicity stunt, and many, including the New York Times agree.Readers of fiction looking for a weekly dose and writers of fiction looking for an audience should check out Weekly Reader, a little website that delivers a story to your inbox every week.Poaching two great links from Arts & Letters Daily: Jonathan Yardley loves Hunter S. Thompson’s new collection of pieces from ESPN.com’s page 2, Hey Rube; and Tibor Fischer discusses the current slate of Booker hopefuls.
The Atlantic is kicking off its new series, YA for Grown Ups, with an examination of “The Greatest Girl Characters in Young Adult Literature.” Obviously The Hunger Games‘s Katniss Everdeen is up there, but don’t worry, Ramona Quimby makes the list too.
Moby-Dick is a quintessential Great American Novel, perhaps even the greatest, but it might not be pure fiction. That’s what George Dobbs argues in a piece on “The Real Life Inspirations Behind Moby-Dick” for The Airship. Invention or not, at least we can be thankful no cannibalism sneaked its way onto the Pequod…
What’s the best book to introduce someone to the late Terry Pratchett? The Color of Magic, his first Discworld novel, is an intuitive choice, but it may not be the right one. In The Guardian, Sam Jordison kicks off a debate about the ideal entree to Pratchett’s work. You could also read our tribute to the author.