The Onion headline Bunch Of Phonies Mourn J.D. Salinger: “In this big dramatic production that didn’t do anyone any good (and was pretty embarrassing, really, if you think about it), thousands upon thousands of phonies across the country mourned the death of author J.D. Salinger, who was 91 years old for crying out loud.”
My essay on Zadie Foster Franzenides and the current state of literary aesthetics is in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine.
This past Wednesday Tracy K. Smith officially began her term as the new U.S. Poet Laureate. After adding her name to the guest book traditionally signed by poet laureates upon the start of their one year term, she read aloud from previously published poetry collections and introduced new work. Ron Charles from the Washington Post reports “[a]mong her most powerful new pieces were ‘found poems’ constructed from archival letters that African American veterans sent to President Lincoln asking for pensions they were owed.” Smith is the first poet laureate appointed by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. Stay tuned for her upcoming efforts to engage rural communities in poetry discussions.
It’s another huge week for new releases. Happy Murakami day! Haruki Murakami’s long-awaited 1Q84 is finally here – look for our review tomorrow, as is Walter Isaacson’s headline-making biography of Steve Jobs. Also out is another massive and hotly anticipated work in translation (1152 pages!), Hungarian Peter Nadas’s Parallel Stories. Lydia Millet has a new novel out, Ghost Lights, and Thinking, Fast and Slow is set to arrive from Nobel-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman.