For Teacher Appreciation Week, Joumana Khatib at The New York Times asked writers about the books they were recommended to read by their teachers. Poet Ada Limón was given Ray Bradbury‘s The October Country by her high school English teacher. “I had never read stories like this,” Limon says. “The sense of surprise. The distrust of human beings. How the enemy could be the wind or a crowd, or how a farmer could be forced to cut wheat that isn’t wheat at all with his giant scythe. I also learned the word scythe! It was just weird enough for me at 13. Just forbidden enough. Just dark and morbid enough to keep my interest. I still think about those short stories, their strange and eerie turns, how it gave the world another magical (and creepy) possibility.”
Today is Haruki Murakami’s birthday, so what better day to announce the title of his next work, Kishidancho Goroshi (Killing Commendatore)? The novel, which is divided in two parts – Arawareru Idea (Emerging Idea) and Utsurou Metaphor (Moving Metaphor) – is slated for a late February release in Japan. As of this writing, very little is known about the novel’s plot.
Writing in The Guardian, Colm Tóibín explores the “inspiring, rivalrous, Oedipal” relationships between authors and their parents. The article’s been adapted from his forthcoming book, New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families
In the latest edition of By the Book, Neil Patrick Harris explains his love of Gone Girl, Steve Martin, and John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. We’ve written about the series in the past — you might want to look back on the entries by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Colson Whitehead.
This is a fantastic piece on W. H. Auden, “The Murder of Lidice”, and the importance of the ideological and political contexts of war. Joanna Bourke writes, “the flood of poems [after the Lidice massacre] actually served to draw attention away from the people of Lidice and towards the swollen sensibilities of the poets and their readers.”
You should check out George Saunders’s “Liner Notes” piece about “2776: A Musical Journey Through America’s Past, Present & Future,” which is set to accompany a forthcoming musical-comedy album from Patton Oswalt, Aubrey Plaza, Ira Glass, and Yo La Tengo, among others. If that hasn’t sold you, consider the fact that Saunders’s piece contains this line: “Truth be told, there were a number of regrettable omissions. Beyoncé and Jay Z’s piece ‘Bomber’ had to be left off the album. (‘Driver of this plane, this / B-52 on the way to Nagasaki / Stuff your ears with cotton and / Close those eyes / Me and my man are about to do it all over this / Here bomb’).”