“Skipping or skimming parts of a narrative should not only be expected but encouraged, particularly if an author is writing without clarity or purpose or showing off. Life’s too short to slog through some smarty-pants attempt to demonstrate a mastery of mechanical engineering or botany.” Adam Kirsch and Anna Holmes face off for The New York Times Bookends column about whether there are right and wrong ways to read a book.
Here’s a fact that’s either very surprising or not surprising at all: Samuel Beckett didn’t want his letters to see the light of day. He once wrote to Barney Rosset that he didn’t care for “the ventilation of private documents.” Despite this disinclination, his third volume of letters comes out this week, and it includes, as detailed by John Banville in a review for The Irish Times, a letter in which Beckett asks that none of his plays be produced in Ireland. Pair with: our own Matt Seidel on Beckett’s “Echo’s Bones.”
As part of their ongoing efforts to monopolize all kinds of waterfowl, the good folks at Penguin, headed by the editor Jonathan Bell, have dug up old covers from the company’s defunct imprint, Pelican. The Guardian set up a slideshow that lets you scroll through a selection.
The second issue of the new journal Music & Literature is a feast for Krasznahorkai enthusiasts and neophytes alike, with some 70 pages of previously untranslated fiction, interviews, and essays, along with critical context on the “Hungarian Master of the Apocalypse.” Alas, only George Szirtes‘ essay and an interview with translator Ottilie Mulzet are available digitally. But the complete analog package is highly recommended.