“The rest of her speech to the U.N. that day is an exact outline for what she wanted the rest of the Parable books to be about — a way out that she did not live to write herself.” For Electric Literature, Kristopher Jansma explores the unwritten Parable books of acclaimed sci-fi author Octavia Butler. Pair with our consideration of Butler’s novel Kindred.
We’ve got some great stuff in the pipeline at The Millions, starting with a lierary magazine roundtable (part one of which will be up shortly), but before we get to that a couple of quick links:This week at the LBC we’re discussing our winter 2007 Read This! selection, Wizard of the Crow by Ngugl wa Thiong’o. A roundtable discussion kicks off a week that will include a contest, an interview, a podcast, and more.Speaking of the LBC, a past selection, and one of my favorites from among the books we’ve read, Firmin by Sam Savage, has been named a finalist for the Barnes & Noble 2006 Discover Great New Writers Awards. That little rat just keeps on trucking along.And finally, Robert Birnbaum sits down with Richard Ford (again) for another great interview. Thanks to Millions contributor Noah, we had some great coverage of Ford’s most recent book, The Lay of the Land, in November, including a review, a reader question, and a (very brief) interview..
“With each step, I had to remind myself to touch pavement again, as if in a moment’s forgetfulness I might slip the earth’s magnetic pull and go pinwheeling over Sydney Harbor and out to sea,” our own Michael Bourne writes in his Dispatches column at The Common, “Stanley Street.”
“My whole life, I had used stories, both my own and other people’s, to check out of grocery store lines and long bus trips, stints in doctors’ waiting rooms, heartache, my own depression, and finally of the tedious exhaustion of new motherhood. Now, here I was in this 15-by-20 room, where monitors and alarms were constantly beeping, and there was no way out, except the unimaginable.” Alyson Foster, author of Heart Attack Watch, writes about her son’s illness and her love of reading.
Recently, a Czech linguist named Jakob Murian came up with an estimate of the number of languages your average European speaks. The study is complicated, however, by the question of how much you need to know to really understand a given language. At the LRB’s blog, Glen Newey asks: are you fluent when you can order a beer, or when you can translate Virgil? Pair with: Abigail Rasminsky on learning to speak German.
“Book lore and book history and everything around them, to do with libraries or culture, I think it centers so much of civilization.” Atlas Obscura interviewed journalist Alex Johnson about his forthcoming title, Book Towns, which explores off-the-beaten-path towns bursting with bookshops.
Do author photographs change the way we see them (or the way we read their works)? At Lit Hub, stare into the souls of a few iconic writers and read about how author photos impact us. You could also read our review of Street Seen, which maps out how photography and reality became intertwined.
In the Times, Dwight Garner reviews the new edition of Bartlett’s Familiar Black Quotations, a compendium of quotes from notable black writers dating from ancient times to the present. Among other figures, Thurgood Marshall, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston and Cory Booker all have quotes in the book.