“Reading is a type of reckoning with the self. That may sound like a simplistic platitude, but platitudes exist only because they are true, our self-serving intellectual mirrors be damned.” Cher Tan shares a lifetime’s reading history with Catapult, tracing her trajectory from “[k]eeping up with the boys” during high school to this past year, in which she made a personal pact to read only books written by people of color. Pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone in conversation with six authors on their childhood reading.
"[H]e is a true, unrepentant nerd, who has only ever been looking for his people." Buzzfeed's Doree Shafrir talks with Michael Chabon (and his wife, the writer Ayelet Waldman) about being a good literary citizen, his life in letters, and his new "fictional memoir" Moonglow.
RIP Günter Grass, who passed away in a hospital in Lübeck, Germany this morning at the age of 87. Grass, who won the Nobel in 1999, achieved fame upon publication of his debut novel, The Tin Drum. For more on the author's life, you can read Ranbir Sadhu's review of his memoir.
There are three kinds of readers of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest: those who feel some niggling guilt about that brick on their bookshelf, those who've read it (proudly) but secretly may have no idea what happened in that tangled ending, and the people responsible for this excellent infographic. (Complement with cached commentary at Infinite Summer and a guide to the geography of Wallace's Boston.)
Last week, I pointed readers to a Page-Turner essay by Amy Bloom, whose new novel, Lucky Us, came out on Tuesday. Now, as part of the By the Book series in the Times, she talks about her summertime reads, her first picture book and who she’d invite to a literary dinner party. (FYI, we’ve written about the series before.)
New this week are Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer by Wesley Stace (the pen name of singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding), and buzzed about debut The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale. On the nonfiction side is a new biography, Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall. And new in paperback is Millions Hall of Famer The Big Short by Michael Lewis.
Over at the New Yorker, Akhil Sharma argues that "Anton Chekhov’s "Sakhalin Island", his long investigation of prison conditions in Siberia, is the best work of journalism written in the nineteenth century." Pair Sharma's argument, and admiration, with our own Sonya Chung's "I Heart Checkov" essay.