“The idea that a ‘book of the year’ can be assessed annually by a bunch of people – judges who have to read almost a book a day – is absurd, as is the idea that this is any way of honouring a writer.” Amit Chaudhuri in The Guardian about why the Man Booker Prize “is bad for writers.” And in these pages, Mark O’Connell asks why we care about literary awards at all.
By the age of twenty-one, Eugene O’Neill had dropped out of Princeton, fathered a child and caught syphilis on a trip through South America. He was, in his own words, “the Irish luck kid,” blessed in a strange way with misfortune. Yet he went on to win a Pulitzer eleven years later. How did he do it? In the LRB, John Lahr reads a new biography of the playwright.
Yes, “books to read this summer” lists are proliferating on the internet to a staggering degree — our own “Summer Reading List For Wretched Assholes” notwithstanding. However, few lists address the importance of a single season quite like this one by Carrie Mullins at Electric Literature, which takes a look at 11 novels that take place during one summer.
“Raymond Chandler did not invent the private eye — Dashiell Hammett and a few others got there first. But his vision is the one that caught the public eye and stuck most indelibly in the imagination, like — in one of his aromatic metaphors — ‘a tarantula on a slice of angel food.’” On a new biography of the man behind Phillip Marlowe.