Bonnie Nadzam asks us what should fiction do? “An artistic practice that perpetually reinforces my sense of self is not, in my mind, an artistic practice.”
The “grande dame of the Beat Generation” has died at age 90. Carolyn Cassady passed away last Friday near her home in England. She was the inspiration for Camille, Dean Moriarty’s overburdened second wife in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Yet Cassady was a writer in her own right and published two books, Off the Road and Heart Beat: My Life With Jack and Neal, about how the Beat Generation was misunderstood.
Jeff Bezos married a novelist, “expressed a passionate devotion to books”, and may be the one person mild-mannered indie bookshop owners hate more than any other. How’d that happen? After perusing a short history from the New York Review of Books, see for yourself with our vintage news announcements on Amazon’s innovations in pay-per-page pricing, now-old products like the Kindle, and its industry-changing acquisitions of The Washington Post and the English language.
The bookstore business is supposed to be dying, but Ann Patchett begs to differ. She discussed her independent shop, Parnassus Books, and the future of bookstores for The Daily Beast’s “How I Write” series. “I can’t remember the last time I was in a bad bookstore. The future of independent bookstores is strong. We need to be small. The day of the 30,000 square foot bookstore is over, but the day of the 3000 square foot bookstore has arrived.” Patchett was also interviewed for The New York Times “By the Book” series, where she said Charlotte’s Web had such an impact on her as a kid that she got a pet pig and became a vegetarian.
A hundred years after the First World War began, many people are looking anew at the conflict, among them Thomas Laquer, who wrote a lengthy reflection of its causes in an LRB review of Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers. In The New Yorker, George Packer uses the war as a jumping-off point for an essay on a broader topic: the evolution of war literature in the modern world.