“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” NPR reminds us of this great quote from Haruki Murakami before rounding up its five favorite books in translation for 2016, including Yoko Tawada‘s Memoirs of a Polar Bear (originally published in German) and The Clouds by Juan José Saer. And from our archives: translator Alison Anderson on “Ferrante Fever” and what a great translation adds to the original work.
Comics fans will know that a new Marvel storyline may — just possibly — reunite Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. This has, understandably, produced a range of reactions, not least of which is this piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who argues that the two embody a healthy marriage. “[Their] marriage was a rejection of the macho ideal of romance—which reigns even among nerds—and it mirrored and confirmed my own budding sense of what love was at a very young age,” he writes. You could also read Paul Morton on the character of Peter Parker.
NY Press has a long look at the history of iconoclastic indie press Soft Skull, which recently shuttered its New York office, effectively ending the publisher’s run as a standalone press and making it just an imprint of California-based parent (and, it should be noted, rescuer from financial straights) Counterpoint. Incidentally, I’ve had a front row seat for all this, as, for the book I’m co-editing, I was initially working with the good folks in New York and then everything was suddenly (and thankfully without a hitch) transferred to the folks in Berkeley. (Thanks, Craig)
Moby-Dick is a quintessential Great American Novel, perhaps even the greatest, but it might not be pure fiction. That’s what George Dobbs argues in a piece on “The Real Life Inspirations Behind Moby-Dick” for The Airship. Invention or not, at least we can be thankful no cannibalism sneaked its way onto the Pequod…