The Guardian has a beautiful multimedia feature in celebration of John le Carré‘s new memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel, including an exclusive excerpt, original notes from the author’s archives, and readings of his novels by Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Damien Lewis et al. Read also: our own Emily St. John Mandel on using le Carré for literary cover.
Last semester, at UC Riverside, the novelist Susan Straight began the class “Mixed-Race Literature and the American Experience” with a simple question: “How many of you are often asked, What are you?” In an essay about the class, she relates what they learned, which includes the observation that hair is weirdly important in America. (Related: The Millions published an essay by Straight on Toni Morrison’s Sula.)
David Kurnick explores what makes Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels so addictive. As he puts it, “In Ferrante we see what grand novelistic ambition looks like devoid of writerly vanity.” Pair with Cora Currier’s essay on reading Italy through Ferrante’s books.
“Here’s a challenge for you: find a book jacket that features an image of a woman over 40.” Despite being one of the biggest consumers of books, The Guardian writes about the lack of middle-aged women on book jackets. Pair with: an essay on the sexy-backed, faceless-woman book cover trend.
Stop reading this post if you have things to do. Still here? You’ve been warned. Ray Cadaster compiled a list of The 50 Most Interesting Articles on Wikipedia, and then followed it up with a sequel containing 50 more. Over at Ploughshares, Justin Alvarez discusses his favorites among both lists, and he asks readers to share their best discoveries. As you go through these articles, keep an eye peeled for posts worthy of Citation Needed.
“I was interested enough in WikiLeaks, state transparency, and emergent opposition networks to do five years in prison over such things, but I wasn’t interested enough that I would have voluntarily plowed through 500 pages of badly plotted failed-marriage razzmatazz by an author who’s long past his expiration date simply in order to learn what the Great King of the Honkies thinks about all this.” Barrett Brown reviews Jonathan Franzen’s Purity from prison. Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s review of the book.