“Between 1990 and 2014, visits to public libraries grew by a whopping 181%. For context, the population of the United States increased by 28% during that period.” Why the library boom? (via The Digital Reader) See also this paean by Daniel Penev in our own pages,“The Library Is Dead. Long Live the Library!”
As a cultural center with a very different makeup than the various home bases of the publishing world, Los Angeles often gets short shrift in discussions of literary cities. At the LARB (naturally), Sarah-Jane Stratford writes about the city’s importance to speculative literature, with an emphasis on the works of Ray Bradbury. Related: Tanjil Rashid on Bradbury’s Middle East connection.
On Friday, I wrote about the British writer William Boyd, whose new play, Longing, debuted last week at London’s Hampstead Theatre. The play is based on two of Chekhov’s short stories, one of which (according to Boyd’s new article in The Guardian) sheds light on the great author’s love life. Apparently the young Anton had “at least two dozen” affairs.
“These sorts of connections are at the centre of nearly all time machine fiction. These novels usually draw attention to telling commonalities across historical eras, or between the past and the present. That gives an engaging puzzle quality to the books—we read seeking out the dropped clues that will shed light on the purpose of the parallel.” On fiction in which the plot takes place over multiple timelines.
"In the 1970s it circulated among Left Bank intellectuals, including Sartre and Bernard-Henri Lévy, as an aid to productive writing. In 1981 it was listed as a controlled substance in the US and in 1986, after it was scheduled under the WHO Convention on Psychotropic Substances, it was removed from prescription sale." The London Review of Books reviews two histories about the role of drugs in the fighting of wars, Blitzed: Drugs In the Third Reich by Norman Ohler and Shooting Up: A History of Drugs in Warfare by Łukasz Kamieński Hurst. Both pay particular attention to Captagon (the name a portmanteau of "captain" and "pentagon"), a pharmaceutical that has become common throughout Eastern Europe, the Gulf States, India, and China, and by 2014 "had become a significant source of funding for all sides in Syria’s civil war."
Hosted by the Library of Congress, this year's National Book Festival will take place on Saturday, September 2, in Washington D.C. and include authors such as David McCullough and Diana Gabaldon. Should you be interested in volunteering, click here to fill out a Google submission form or email Faye Levin, the 2017 volunteer coordinator, at [email protected] And let us know if you're going!