Bibliophiles will rejoice at The New York Times‘s current travel section, which is entirely book-dedicated. The staff lead with “Temples for the Literary Pilgrim,” which profiles jaw-dropping bookstores, cafés, and restaurants around the world; Ann Patchett provides a U.S. based bookstore pilgrimage; seven writers, including Geraldine Brooks and Ta-Nehisi Coates, reflect on their personal favorites; and Jennifer Moses writes about traveling as a bookworm. Might we also recommend this literary travelogue by Kate McCahill from our archives?
Is writing an inherently performative medium? Scott McClanahan thinks so. "I think my favorite writers are hams," he said in an interview for The Rumpus. He also discussed staying at hotels with pimps during his book tour, indie presses, his book Crapalachia (which our own Nick Moran recommends), and his aversion to tote bags.
Celebrate the 2010 Melbourne Literary Festival--going on now through September 5th--by watching this funny promo video, "10 Facts about Books That You Won't Read in a Book About Books".
Boston Review’s Aura Estrada Short Story Contest is underway. This year’s submissions will be judged by What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank author (as well as Year in Reading contributor) Nathan Englander, and the victor will earn a $1,500 prize as well as publication.
“Thus it is our [feminists’] historical task ... to define what we call oppression in materialist terms, to make it evident that women are a class, which is to say that the category ‘woman’ as well as the category ‘man’ are political and economic categories, not eternal ones.” This essay in remembrance of Alexis Arquette touches on everything from VIP guest lists to feminist theorist Monique Wittig.
We are all by now familiar with J.K. Rowling's elaborate, hand-drawn outlines for the Harry Potter series, but what if all plots could be simplified further? Down to, let's say, graphs? And not even an infinite number of graphs, but just six? The Paris Review considers the work of Matthew Jockers, a literature professor who studies “the relationship between sentiment and plot shape in fiction.”
Just because Beowulf's influence on Tolkien isn't news doesn't mean the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien's translation of the epic poem this week isn't exciting. But while Tolkien's name alone may be enough for the serious fan, Ethan Gilsdorf at the New York Times has given general readers an introduction to the history of the new translation complete with some insight into Tolkien's love of the epic poem.