Paula Fox, celebrated novelist and winner of the 1983 National Book Award (among other honors), died this week. Contributing to our Year in Reading series two years ago, Parul Sehgal said she couldn’t stop rereading Desperate Characters, perhaps Fox’s most popular book for adults. “It’s really a wallop of a book,” Sehgal wrote. “A barbed portrait of a marriage, not to mention a brilliant take on gentrification, white fears of black and brown people, the hostile insularity of the nuclear family, and how power reproduces and how power conceals itself.” (Bonus: Dominic Smith wants to send a scene from that novel into space.)
Today in book-related graphics: The Arts Shelf has created an infographic measuring famous literature by word count, and The New York Times provides a handy, illustrated guide to any writers' retreat, complete with authors' cloisters and an "emergency idea generator."
The Times is reporting that a new film and companion book (Salinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno) "include detailed assertions that Mr. Salinger instructed his estate to publish at least five additional books — some of them entirely new, some extending past work — in a sequence that he intended to begin as early as 2015." One of the books is said to include a retooled version of Salinger's unpublished (but available at the Princeton library) story "The Last and Best of the Peter Pans." Kristopher Jansma (The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards) wrote about the story for us in 2011. Bonus Link: Garth Risk Hallberg on Salinger's legacy.
What do you think gets fact-checked the most rigorously: newspaper articles, magazine stories, or books? If you guessed books, you'd be surprised to know that they are rarely, if ever, fact-checked. At The Atlantic, Kate Newman questions why we have so much faith in books' accuracy but why publishers don't bother.
In Open Letters, Sam Sacks writes "Quietude is godliness in Lark & Termite" and traces Faulkner's influence on the new book.n+1 on the 10th anniversary of Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time": "After her came the deluge: the end of the record industry as we know it, yes, but also the end of America as it used to conceive of itself."Soft Skull's Richard Nash on how to publish in a recession at Conversational Reading.William Safire on "the deluge of books occasioned by the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth." Millions reader Scott says, "I wish the Book Review would do a LOT more of this kind of stuff."The Internet is amazing I: J! Archive, "The fan-created archive of Jeopardy! games and players - 160,032 clues and counting!"The Internet is amazing II: The NY Times has a crossword puzzle blog.Maud Newton in Granta: "Exactly how long the prostitute, unbeknownst to my father, stayed at our house and slept in my bed is hard to gauge.""Sometimes, instead of eating alone, I pretend I'm having lunch with American literary legends. Today's pretend guest was Cormac McCarthy."Is MacKinlay Kantor's Andersonville "the best Civil War novel ever?" (via)At Jacket Copy, Carolyn discovers Faulkner and Delillo in the Sports Illustrated archive.Sara Paretsky: "My editor tells me this is the last time the company will let her send me a marked manuscript."Jenny Davidson on her special pencils.Dan Radosh exposes yet another tired journalistic cliche.The novel of manners, with zombies:: Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesIn praise of the long sentence. (Hear, hear!)
“Fifty Shades of Grey follows this long history of class ascendancy via feminine wiles, but does so cleverly disguised as an edgy modern bodice-ripper,” writes Heather Havrilesky in the latest issue of The Baffler. Throughout the piece, Havrilesky explores the way luxury brand fetishism and conspicuous consumption fueled E.L. James's “female-friendly” pornography phenomenon
Need to spice up your writing? Try one of McSweeney's punctuation marks such as the Yellow-Winged Apostrophe, which likes "to 'peace out' of its obligation to indicate possession or contraction," or the Academic Ellipsis, which "is used by those who wish to demonstrate just how much more they know about how to use ellipses than you do."