As we mourn the loss of Anthony Bourdain, the Los Angeles Times remembers his impact on the literary world and the ways in which the literary establishment wanted him to ‘shape up’. A well-read chef and writer, Bourdain’s most well-known book was Kitchen Confidential. Pair with this essay on food writing.
What would happen if you had a clock to countdown the exact number of days until you died? Our own Mark O’Connell discovers the paranoia of having the Days of Life app measure his mortality at The New Yorker. “Days of Life functions like a reductio ad absurdum of the logic of personal productivity. The pie chart becomes a special way of being afraid: an image of the self as a micro-economy of numbered days.” For a more uplifting version of O’Connell, check out his 2013 Year in Reading post.
“A collection of previously unpublished short stories and poems from Capote’s youth” have recently been rediscovered and will soon be available in print for the first time, reports The New York Times. Unfortunately the first published pieces will only be available in German translations until a full English collection is released in 2015, and we have a feeling Google Translate isn’t a good option for getting a readable version early.
Crime novelist Sue Grafton passed away earlier this week from cancer. Lit Hub and Vulture both have touching tributes to her and her detective series starring Kinsey Millhone. “Grafton belonged to a cluster of female authors who viewed the private-detective subgenre, previously dominated by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Grafton’s own hero, Ross Macdonald, in desperate need of subverting” and “The annual release of her latest Kinsey Millhone novel was, for generations of devotees, one of the year’s premier literary events. ” Rest in peace Ms. Grafton.
Back in 2013, Ted Gioia wrote a piece for The Millions about an old sci-fi novel that correctly predicted the future. Since then, he’s embarked on an ambitious project that expands on his interest in sci-fi, exploring how the most radical sci-fi writers of the sixties paved the way for much of modern fiction. As he puts it, “I focus on this era in the history of sci-fi because it laid the groundwork for one of the most important developments in current-day fiction.”
“I’m the one who gets asked, publicly, how I manage to write and teach and have three kids. Do you get those questions, or do people just assume there is a woman doing all of the homemaking so you can go upstairs and write?” Poets Tracy K. Smith and Gregory Pardlo discuss David Bowie vs. Elton John, the confessional vs. the abstract, and the balance between family and work. Also check out Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s new memoir, Ordinary Light.