“Each one of those books is, like, several hundred pages long. So, that’s a lot of romantic anxiety and adolescent/young-adult/middle-aged angst to distill into pictures, but as far as I can tell, it’s all there: salted fish, shower-sex, alcohol-induced existential despair, the whole shebang! No reading required.” The Melville House blog, MobyLives, revisits the work of an anonymous artist who reenacted all of Karl Ove Knausgaard‘s My Struggle series using LEGOs. See also: our review of Knausgaard’s epic.
Tranquility by Attila Bartis is named winner of the inaugural Best Translated Book Award. Scott rounds up some reviews and background on the book.Video: Tom Perrotta on the state of American literary culture.”Art History books are full of errors.” This one is about La Raie Vert [the Green Stripe] from 1905 by Henri Matisse.Perfect for the cubicle: Five Chapters serialized John Cheever’s short story, “Of Love: A Testimony,” in bite-sized portions.Mark Sarvas (re)launches the Three-Minute-Interview series, starting with Plimpton Prize winner Jesse Ball. We reviewed Ball’s debut Samedi the Deafness last year. Ball’s new book is The Way Through Doors.Meanwhile, Sheila Heti chats up Mary Gaitskill.Yearbook photos of politicians: Mike Huckabee, How YOU doin’?Norman Mailer and William Styron conduct an epistolary friendship.The Nation revisits the ever-popular subject of Kafka and his critics.Wyatt Mason and friends parse Joseph O’Neill to within an inch of his life.Reif Larsen is this year’s Million Dollar Baby.And, from the Department of Dead Horses and Guys Kicked While Down, we bring you this…
“He was a glutton for books who treated each text as a plate he was required to clean.” Author and critic William Gass died this week at 93, reports The Washington Post. The recipient of three National Book Critics Circle awards for criticism and four Pushcart prizes, Gass was awarded the PEN/Nabakov Award for lifetime achievement in 2000. See our reviews of Middle C, a novel that took Gass almost 20 years to finish, and his most recent essay collection Life Sentences, which amply demonstrated his background as “a former philosophy professor, but more appropriately a philosopher of the word and an esthete.” We were also lucky enough to have him pen a Year in Reading entry for us back in 2009: “I miss the leisure that let me read just for fun, not to critique, or pronounce, or even to put on a list, but simply to savor,” Gass lamented. Nonetheless, he continued,“I do, from time to time, pick up old friends who never disappoint but will promise me a page or two of pleasure between art and ordinary life.”
“What I’ve found is that a lot of soldiers are surprisingly apolitical. Their reality is, ‘Today I’m going to leave the gate for twelve hours, and I’m going to make it back to the dining facility by sundown with the arms and legs of me and my buddies intact.’ So you say, ‘Well, what about the Project for the New American Century and the preexisting agenda blah blah blah?’ They go, ‘Yeah, that’s cool, but I have to get through today.’ So their reality is not a political reality as much as it’s, ‘If I’m driving by this piece of garbage, will it blow up?'” Revisit this old interview with Henry Rollins over at Guernica Magazine, which manages the nearly impossible: to be both level-headed and political.