Recommended Viewing: 1958 footage of the unveiling of Moscow’s six-meter high monument to Vladimir Mayakovsky. And while you’re at it, read his poem, “An Extraordinary Adventure Which Befell Vladimir Mayakovksy In A Summer Cottage,” which features one of the best closing lines in literature.
Okay, so earlier this week I mentioned Emily Nussbaum‘s excellent profile of Lena Dunham for New York Magazine. Now Lorrie Moore‘s written one too, for The New Yorker blog. The short piece, as you might imagine, is a near perfect meeting of author and subject; who could be better at writing about Girls?
I can’t recommend John Jeremiah Sullivan‘s 7,000-word article on The Pale King highly enough – not because he gets everything right, but because it’s what long-form writing about books should look like: passionate, lucid, wide-ranging, and awfully fun to read. I salute GQ for running it, and hope to see more literary coverage there in the future.
“Almost as soon as the concept of the Great American Novel was invented, in the nation-building years after the Civil War, Buell finds it being mocked, noting that one observer dryly put it into the same category as ‘other great American things such as the great American sewing-machine, the great American public school, and the great American sleeping-car.’ It was enough of a cliché by 1880 for Henry James to refer to it with the acronym ‘GAN,’ which Buell employs throughout his book.” On the reigning gold standard for quality in American fiction. (Related: we asked nine experts their picks for the best American novel.)
Have some fun with this New York specific feature highlighted by Atlas Obscura. The New York Society Library is private member-based library and it has some pretty famous members, going all the way back to Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Due to the library’s excellent record keeping you can trace these famous members reading histories. “In the early 20th century, Library staff switched from big, blank ledger books to index cards for record keeping. Henceforth they archived cards only for “prominent” members, discarding the rest. The gap is major, but the surviving cards offer a lifetime of book recommendations.”