Pacific Standards profiles Ken Layne who quietly started the popular quarterly literary magazine, Desert Oracle for a town of 8,000 people. Now it has gained far more readers than that as it highlights works related to the American desert. “The reason that the Oracle works is that it’s always trying to elicit that feeling, the awe and wonder that the desert reveals to you when you listen hard enough. Layne believes it’s not an accident that religious awakenings, UFO sightings, walkabouts, and other revelations occur in the desert. It’s a consequence of solitude, stark beauty, and the tenacious life that only the desert has.”
After nearly a quarter of a millennium, the Encyclopedia Britannica is ending its print run. While the publication plans to move to a digital subscription based model, and to continue to gather information about the known world, many are sad to note its passing. Roxane Gay offers a particularly heartfelt eulogy: ” it was exciting to open the huge box and pull out the leather bound volumes, so many of them, the pages lined in gold.”
John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, was a dear friend (even protégé) of King Charles II. He was also a sharp-tongued poet who called out the same King on his bedroom behavior: “His sceptre and prick are of a length; / And she may sway the one who plays with th’other.”
Trevor Berrett, the man behind The Mookse and the Gripes, and now The Worlds and Works of Shakespeare, is conducting a giveaway for the NYRB Classics edition of Mark Van Doren’s Shakespeare. Conditions to enter are enumerated on his blog, which you should certainly bookmark if you’re a fan of the Bard.
Following its interview with Yelena Akhtiorskaya, Bookforum published its review of the author’s debut novel, Panic in a Suitcase. As in many other books that take place in the post-Cold War age, the plot centers on a group of Ukrainian immigrants, fresh out of the former Soviet Union, who set up new lives in America. However, despite the subject matter, it’s a bit too reductive, Chloé Cooper-Jones writes, to classify the book as an immigrant novel. For more on the book, read Matthew Wolfson’s Millions review.