This week poet Mark Baumer was struck and killed by an SUV while walking barefoot across the country. Baumer, 33, began his cross-country walk to raise awareness about climate change, and was documenting the journey on his blog (as well as Instagram and YouTube). Florida, where he was killed, was recently ranked “the most dangerous place for pedestrians” in the United States.
The Tournament of Books rolls along with a few first round upsets (Congratulations, Sarvas!), but the highlight thus far might be a glimpse of Junot Díaz’s one-of-kind victor’s shirt from last year.Meanwhile, Stop Smiling offers up a Díaz interview.John Leonard’s son compiles a concordance to his father’s vigorous criticism, in which “thug,” “libidinal,” and “linoleum” make the top 10.The breathless inventorying of Roberto Bolaño’s posthumous papers continues.Our friend Eliza Barclay reports from the Andes, finding little cause for optimism.Victor Lavalle becomes the most recent essayist spurred to eloquence by the Obama inauguration.Also from the Atlantic, Hitchens and Marx: On again?James Wood and Claire Messud get grilled – sort of – by The Harvard Crimson: he’s the chef, she does laundry.The people who put William Kristol on payroll show themselves capable of good judgment. Congratulations, Ross Douthat!Wikipedia find of the week: beghilos (aka calculator spelling)Audrey Niffeneger is not feeling the recession. The NYT says $5 mil for The Time Traveler’s Wife follow-up.NPR explores the doodles of powerful people.CAAF spends some time with the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus and pauses on “limn.”Clay Shirky elucidates, perhaps better than most media pundits have, why newspapers need to be “thinking the unthinkable.”
Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings has been a Millions favorite, so we’re excited to hear about her next book, Belzhar, a young adult novel inspired by Sylvia Plath. The book comes out on September 30 and follows a 16-year-old grieving at a boarding school for fragile teenagers, where she and her classmates discover an alternate world. Wolitzer spoke to NPR about why she was drawn to YA. “Much of what adolescents feel seems set in relief, and much of what they experience is happening to them for the first time.”
“Sitting down to read The Actress, Amy Sohn’s newest novel, is even better than standing in line at the grocery store while the person in front of you disputes the price of a carton of orange juice, giving you extra time to read the tabloids. The Actress might be as licentious as a tabloid, but it is far more intelligently written. And, you probably won’t be reading it while standing in line inside a grocery store.”
John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, was a dear friend (even protégé) of King Charles II. He was also a sharp-tongued poet who called out the same King on his bedroom behavior: “His sceptre and prick are of a length; / And she may sway the one who plays with th’other.”
Infinite Jest may have “really taken on a foothold as the ‘novel of ideas’ of the late 20th and early 21st centuries” but now it’s also a “novel of legos,” courtesy of Kevin Griffith and his 11 year old son, Sebastian.