Thirty-eight letters written from the To Kill a Mockingbird author to a friend from 2005-2010 are up for auction this week, including Harper Lee‘s reaction to Barack Obama‘s inauguration. See also: this close reading of the birds themselves.
Both Ed and the Washington Post interview Tobias Wolff on the occasion of the release of his new collection, Our Story Begins.Bookride chronicles some of the most unlikely and amazing discoveries in the history of book collecting. In part one, he discusses many runners-up – including “An incredible collection of modern first editions, mostly fine in jackets turned up in the 1980s in a shed in the Australian desert causing dealers to fly in from New York, Berkeley and Santa Barbara.” Part two covers the greatest find. It begins “In 1907, during his second expedition to Chinese Central Asia, Sir Aurel Stein, a Hungarian-born British archaeologist, encountered a monk who showed him a hoard of manuscripts preserved in a cave near Dunhuang.”In BOMB, Zachary Lazar and Christopher Sorrentino discuss Lazar’s book Sway. Lazar appeared in our Year in Reading.You may have to wait ten years for the rest of it, but Junot Diaz gives readers a sneak peak at his next novel at Omnivoracious.Baseball predictions, highly personalized.J.K. Rowling, now retired from writing about a boy wizard, has embarked on the next step of her career, protecting her legacy. First up is a lawsuit against a companion book written by a superfan librarian. But, as the Times seems to indicate with its account of the trial, that way madness lies: “The librarian, Steven Jan Vander Ark, had the mild-mannered demeanor of Ron Weasley, and the intelligence, charm – and haircut – of Harry Potter. Even his name sounds like that of a character in one of the books, if preceded by “Lord” or “Master.” Although, at 50, he is older than Ms. Rowling, 42, he looked like a schoolboy, with an unlined face and caramel-colored hair parted down the middle.”
This one is for all you antiquarians out there. The oldest known draft of the most widely read work in all of English literature, the King James Bible, has been discovered in the archives at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge. William Shakespeare’s books have also sold a ton of copies, and here’s an essay from The Millions that imagines him as a kind of God, Himself.
“At first blush, bringing an eight-year-old to one of William Shakespeare’s quirkier plays in an effort to help her see herself, an Asian American girl, in popular culture did seem a rather odd decision.” Nicole Chung for Hazlitt on The Winter’s Tale, representation, and parenting in the age of Trump. And wouldn’t you know it, we have a piece specifically about that very play – “three/fifths wintry tragedy, two/fifths vernal comedy, and wholly a masterwork” – right here.
The Great Gatsby, that quintessential American classic, was first published 90 years ago today. Over at Scribner Magazine authors ranging from Anthony Doerr to Christopher Beha remember their first encounters with the novel, and Time has republished its original review of the novel.
“I try to edit my work in different states of mind. So I’ll go running on a really hot day and then read the 2,000 words I just wrote. Or if I’m upset, or really sleepy, or if I’m drunk, I’ll read this stuff. If you’re sleepy and you find yourself skipping over a paragraph because you’re bored by it and just want to get to the interesting part, it comes out. Those different states of mind are a really interesting filter.” Writing advice from Sebastian Junger.
If you enjoyed the profile of Anne Carson in the latest New York Times Magazine – fictitious “ice bats” notwithstanding – you’re going to really love Parul Sehgal and Nathan Huffstutter’s two takes on Red Doc>. The work, Sehgal writes, is “suspended between what it is and what we want it to be.” And also, writes Huffstutter, it’s a work that “courses with a wit shot through with intelligence and humility.”