“She could be a diva, says this source, ‘but in a way I fucking admire it. The world would be a sorrier place without divas.’” For New York magazine, Boris Kachka on the drama behind Michiko Kakutani‘s departure from The New York Times and what her absence means for the world of books. Consider also: our own Matt Seidel‘s rogue’s gallery of prominent critics.
Seeing as yesterday was Donald Barthelme’s birthday, it’s as good a time as any to remember the short fiction icon. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova reads Barthelme’s essay “Not-Knowing,” which you can find in the author’s collection of essays and interviews. Sample quote: “Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.”
Michiko Kakutani‘s generous and oddly moving review of Jay-Z‘s Decoded – in which she seems to find a kindred spirit – almost makes me want to take back all the mean things I’ve said about her. I still don’t trust her judgment, but the review’s worth reading just for the mental image of her in big headphones, nodding along to “Streets Is Watching.” Go ‘head, shorty.
“It makes you think you are just about to write, for once, something brilliant.” Everyone knows that Moleskines don’t really affect your writing, but they nevertheless represent a kind of literary standard. As we step into the future and doodling goes digital, will products like electronic writing tablets put the leather-bound versions out of business? Somewhere Hemingway is turning in his grave.
Some seriously deranged Amazon customer reviews. (via Doc Searls)A year ago “Our Lady of the Underpass” was a Chicago phenomenon. Eric Zorn revisits.Chimney sweeps and flower pots are the stuff of poetry for Sam.Dale Peck’s recent judgment in the Tournament of Books is scarcely worth mentioning, but I did very much enjoy Kevin Guilfoile’s commentary on the topic as well as his tale about meeting Ken Kesey.Kakutani’s reign of terror turns 25.The Literary Saloon points us to Jonathan Franzen’s new book. It’s a memoir, and like Ed, I am disappointed by that.The Rake chats with Charles D’Ambrosio