Most people know Alexandre Dumas for his classics (usually assigned as required reading for class) The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, but fewer people are aware of what he considered his masterwork: Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine. This giant tome was part memoir, part encyclopedia, part cookbook. Rohini Chaki at Atlas Obscura describes the project as “more than a cookbook. Dumas meant it to be a formidable inquiry into both gustation and gastronomy, utilized by enthusiasts and culinary professionals alike.”
This week the Paris Review launched a new online series, Big, Bent Ears, a “Serial in Documentary Uncertainty” masterminded by Sam Stephenson and Ivan Weiss. Each installation features “a combination of video, audio, photography, and writing in various arrangements and states of completion,” and the first chapter overlaps Joseph Mitchell and the Big Ears Music Festival even though “the two projects seem to share little: one concerns a wordsmith, a chronicler, and preserver of fading traditions; the other, musicians challenging tradition and musical forms on a sometimes radical basis.”
Sometime Millions contributor and New York Daily News editorial staffer Alexander Nazaryan has kicked off the Daily News‘ new literary blog, Page Views. Nazaryan says, “you may not think of the tabloid as a particularly literary format, but we are going to challenge your assumptions of what constitutes literary/cultural reporting in this town.” His first post, “Don’t tell me the book is dead,” went live this morning.
Infographic of the Week: Famous authors had day jobs, too. Check out this infographic from Adzuna to find out what J.M. Coetzee, George R.R. Martin, J. K. Rowling, and more did before (or while) they published novels. Our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about the struggle to balance a day job and a creative life.
“One of the joys of literature is that we can always push back against established ways of speaking and seeing—and nothing has to be blown up.” Mark Z. Danielewski, whose latest novel, the first installment of a 27-book series called The Familiar, has just been released, writes for The Atlantic‘s “By Heart” series about “signiconic” writing, the orneriness of his work and the graphic novel Here. Pair with our 2012 interview with Danielewski.
The New York Times Book Review commissioned a work of fiction about the election from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She chose to write about Melania Trump. If you can handle more Trump, check out Greg Chase’s portrait of a Trump supporter, based on Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury.