How did Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston become friends? For Longreads, Yuval Taylor tells the story of a fortuitous road trip, on which Hurston drove Hughes from Mobile to Tuskegee in her Nash coupe. “The road trip provided the perfect opportunity for Zora and Langston to compare notes from their Southern travels, exchange ideas, and explore, along the back roads, the characteristics of African American culture that informed their greatest work,” writes Taylor. “They had both kept meticulous records of songs, sayings, turns of phrase; they related their impressions of conjure wisdom, including the names of potions and powders; they delighted in the cultural riches of their Southern black brethren.” And thus, one of the great literary friendships was born.
It’s safe to say that Jorge Louis Borges could have lectured on anything from watching paint dry to waiting in line at the DMV and the end result would still have been magnificent. Here he is teaching a little Buddhism 101, with an accompanying lecture by his close friend and UC-Berkeley professor Amelia Barili.
New out this week is Gryphon, Charles Baxter’s new collection of stories. Joseph McElroy also has a new collection of stories out, Night Soul. The latest McSweeney’s (featuring that fragment from an abandoned novel by Michael Chabon) is now available, and new in paperback is Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America. Many more new books to look forward to, of course, in our massive preview published last week.
Rebecca Schuman argues in an essay for Slate that extraordinarily long course syllabi are killing the college classroom. If it’s academic homicide you’re after, you might also want to check out Cathy Day’s piece for The Millions in which she suggests that academia might just be killing the novel, too.
Want to catch up on John Updike in a single summer?Dick Cavett reminisces about the time Updike and John Cheever appeared on his talk show… together.Clancy Martin on his failed attempt to become the world’s largest maker of Fauxbergé eggs and how he evaded the Russian police.Ward Sutton literalizes the idea of the cartoonish critique at the Barnes & Noble Review. First up: T.C. Boyle’s The Women.Street artists smell a conspiracy around the recent arrest of “Hope”-monger Shepard Fairey, the artist formerly known as Giant.On the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran, our friend Porochista Khakpour looks back.WNYC presents streaming audio (mp3 link) of Zadie Smith’s NYPL talk on then-President-elect Obama.Fresh Air’s Maureen Corrigan raves about Yu Hua’s Brothers.More heads roll in the publishing industry.How close did we come to economic apocalypse?Glamorous publishing people: “No, there is no glamour left in publishing.”Food for your ears: “The Dinner Party Download is a fast and funny ‘booster shot’ of unconventional news, cuisine and culture to help you win this weekend’s dinner party.” Sarah Shun-lien Bynum was a recent guest.Amid stimulus package largess, arts getting left out in the cold.Epilogue, a new mag that marries short writings, art, and music.File under: links you probably don’t need to click on