“Nothing in Born to Run rings to me as unmeant or punch-pulling. If anything, Springsteen wants credit for telling it the way it really is and was. And like a fabled Springsteen concert — always notable for its deck-clearing thoroughness — Born to Run achieves the sensation that all the relevant questions have been answered by the time the lights are turned out.” Richard Ford reviews The Boss’s new book for the New York Times.
Two writers dive deep into David Foster Wallace's posthumous Pulitzer finalist novel, The Pale King. Seth Colter Walls takes a look at the tax classes the author took before he began writing, and Eliot Caroom checks the facts laid out in Wallace's portrayal of the IRS. (Related: the opening lines of The Pale King, and a previously unpublished scene as well.)
"The average American three-year-old can recognize 100 brands," says prominent advertising and marketing guru Martin Lindstrom. Are we being Brandwashed? For The New York Times, Steven Heller tracks the history of corporate symbols and branding.
New this week: Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney; Carousel Court by Joe McGinniss, Jr.; How I Became a North Korean by Krys Lee; Moonstone by Sjón; and Still Here by Lara Vapnyar. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
Former nytimes.com design director Khoi Vinh tries to renew his digital subscription to the paper, and it doesn't go well: "The total customer experience here is haphazard at best, and, at worst — I hate to say this because I am still friendly with many people at the company, but in truth there’s no way around it — it’s insulting."
Anonymous strikes again: On January 25th, the entity that brought us 1996's deliciously scandalous Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, offers a roman à clef for the Obama age: O: A Presidential Novel. Then it was Joe Klein, but this Anon. is still Anon. Perhaps better than the insider gossip: The media-fueled whodunit the novel's sure to inspire.
In May, poet David Lehman wrote the first line of a sonnet about cubicle anomie and began crowdsourcing the rest. The completed 12-week project at The American Scholar is not merely a pretty great piece on its own, but a lesson in how to write one, line by line: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8/9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. You can submit your title suggestion as late as midnight on Sunday, but we suggest getting a start on it now, while the prison of work is still fresh in mind. (h/t The New York Times)