“It all adds up to a fascinating portrait-of-the-artist-on-the-make in the booming 1950s. And it makes you wish the stories were better.” Year-in-Reading alum Jess Walter reviews a new (911-page) collection of stories by Kurt Vonnegut. See also: “2 B R 0 2 B”, a “lost” Vonnegut story that first appeared in the sci-fi journal Worlds of If in January 1962.
How did Herman Melville’s friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne affect the writing of Moby-Dick? It’s a hard question to answer with any certainty, but Patrick James Dunagan gives it a shot, drawing evidence from Erik Hage’s book on the authors’ relationship. You could also read Hester Blum’s argument that Moby-Dick is the greatest American novel.
The Faster Times offers up a new dialogue from dynamic duo Jon Cotner & Andy Fitch’s "Conversations over Stolen Food," which seamlessly segues from Astroglide and Fung Wah buses to Alaskan Brown Bears, and includes a run-in with New York Park Patrol. Images by Paper Monument editor Dushko Petrovich are added eye candy.
Cool idea from Quarterly: a subscription service “that enables people to receive physical items in the mail from influential contributors of their choice.” I mean, who wouldn’t want some mail from Maud Newton, Jason Kottke, and Maria Popova (Brain Pickings)?
In the Boston Review, Jess Row wades - slowly, interestingly, not always coherently - into the perpetually roiling waters of Theory of the Novel, taking on the canon wars, realism vs. the avant-garde, etc. Is it really "a safe bet that your average well-informed critic today has never read a single work of criticism by a writer of color?" Probably not, even granting Row's exception. But possibly worth arguing about. If you like that sort of thing.
Iowa City, which is one of six UNESCO Cities of Literature, will honor renowned Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor with a memorial reading this Monday, October 14. Awoonor was among those killed in the attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The reading, which will be hosted by Awoonor’s nephew, Kwame Dawes, will take place on the University of Iowa campus, but it will also be open to anybody with an internet connection. People are invited to tune in to the event’s streaming webcast, and also to submit questions for Dawes online to the @UIIWP Twitter account by utilizing the #Awoonor hashtag.
Martin Connelly takes a look at The International Cryptozoology Museum, which is run by Loren Coleman up in Portland, Maine. If you can’t make the pilgrimage yourself (or if you’re just put off by chupacabra taxidermy), you can also get a feel for the study of far out beasts by reading Coleman’s “genre-defining” book, Cryptozoology A to Z.