"It is, in all respects, a heresy — which is to say, Lord above, it’s a future classic."
Amazing, amazing review of this blow-your-world-open, rewrite what you think a book can be, book. Must-read for both the review and the book.
David Foster Wallace on commercial entertainment, the redemptive power of reading, and the future of writing in the age of information – highlights from his fantastic 1996 Charlie Rose interview.
I also like “There’s this part that makes you feel full. There’s this part that is redemptive and instructive, [so that] when you read something, it’s not just delight — you go, “Oh my god, that’s me! I’ve lived like that, I’ve felt like that, I’m not alone in the world…”
James Salter’s outline for his novel, Light Years, which Jhumpa Lahiri wrote about today. Writes Lahiri, “In the beginning it was the light, the warmth of the novel that enchanted me.” Note how Salter is careful to think of the seasons as he moves through the chapters. At the top of the page, Salter identifies a short list of possible titles for the novel, including The Feast Is Ended, New Life, and New Lives. On the bottom portion of this page, in his notes related to the fifth chapter, Salter writes, Life Is Meals. More than thirty years later, he would repurpose this phrase as the title of his 2006 book, cowritten with his wife, Kay Salter. (via Paris Review – Document: An Outline for ‘Light Years’, Thessaly La Force)
Next Thursday, September 25 one of our favorite events, Ask Roulette, will welcome these special guests which means you might get a chance to ask them ANY QUESTION YOU WANT!
- David Rees of National Geographic’s “Going Deep” (one of our favorite new shows, it’s free on Hulu; here he is charmingly making ice); artisanal pencil sharpener; and man behind “Get Your War On.” (@david_rees)
- Comedian Maeve Higgins, host of “I’m New Here” at Union Hall (with Ask alum Jon Ronson) and lots more. (@maevehiggins)
- and special house band Dave Hill! Dave’s, the host of WFMU’s “That Goddam Dave Hill Show,” a two-time Ask guest, but this time around he’s stepping in as our special house band. Expect someshredding. This should be interesting. (@mrdavehill)
This is really such a great event, whether you want to ask a question on stage or just watch the mix of serious, silly, deep and insane questions and answers unfold. Get your tickets now, only $8!
#BookADayUK / Coming-of-age book
I read so many coming-of-age books since I love YA contemporary, so I went with one of the originals. It’s difficult to explain what I loved about The Outsiders. I read it four years ago and it was a mix of being blown away by the characters and the story, and being surprised because I didn’t know what the expect from this modern classic that I’d owned for years but hadn’t picked up.
And join us next week as we celebrate Banned Books week with Stay Gold, Ponyboy: Banned Books Week Screening of THE OUTSIDERS! Wednesday, September 24. We’re making popcorn!
Today’s post is dedicated to Carson McCullers’s brilliant first novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, which was published to great acclaim almost 75 years ago when the author was just 23. This novel is for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider or reject. I recently re-read the 1940 classic, and have collected various editions and incarnations of the book, most of my adult life. Here’s a sampling.
Beautiful covers for this beautiful book. Also among this reporter’s favorite book titles of all time.
Today is the birthday of the influential American poet William Carlos Williams (1883-1963).
From the Poetry Foundation:
William Carlos Williams has always been known as an experimenter, an innovator, a revolutionary figure in American poetry. Yet in comparison to artists of his own time who sought a new environment for creativity as expatriates in Europe, Williams lived a remarkably conventional life. A doctor for more than forty years serving the New Jersey town of Rutherford, he relied on his patients, the America around him, and his own ebullient imagination to create a distinctively American verse.
Paterson. Published by New Directions, 1946-58. Williams’s magnum opus.
A Beginning of a Short Story. Published by The Alicat Bookshop Press, 1950. First edition.
Collected Poems. The Objectivist Press, 1934. Williams’s first “collected” edition.
The Farmers’ Daughters. New Directions, 1961 First edition, first printing. One of 1500 copies. Publisher’s file copy with file copy stamp to front endpaper.
Sour Grapes. Published in Boston by The Four Seas Company, 1921 First edition, first printing of Williams’ fifth book. One of 1000 copies. Signed and inscribed by Williams to close friend and fellow poet Mitchell Dawson.
William Carlos Williams Reading his Poems. Caedmon. 1954
Typed Letter Signed “W.C. Williams” 1p, 8.5” x 11”. Rutherford, N.J., October 19, 1938.To John Crowe Ransom, Editor The Kenyon Review, Gambier, Ohio. Fine condition.“Your letter, about the Lorca article, put me right back on my feet again…”
Happy birthday William
We bought these books
but left them on the train.
Nothing says: “Read Up, Groovy Babes!” quite like a bright pink pamphlet featuring Anton Chekhov on the cover.
We found this in an old folder entitled “Ideas from Other Libraries”. It’s from the Fiction Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia. There’s no clear date, but there are some markings inside that lead me to believe that this is from the early 70s.
Other fiction authors featured inside are categorized by nationality, though any author who isn’t American or English/Irish falls under the “Other Foreign Writer” category.
When my boss was describing it to me, she said “come look at this crazy library pamphlet from the 60s with Chekhov on the cover" and I dropped everything and ran over because I thought she was talking about Chekhov from The Original Star Trek. Part of me wonders if this was part of the original Fiction Department marketing tactic too. Tricksy FLP staff.
#read up groovy babes
Just two weeks until Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style!
Here’s Pinker’s full explanation on punctuation inside quotations: “The rule in American publications … is that when quoted material appears at the end of a phrase or sentence, the closing quotation mark goes outside the comma or period, like this,” rather than inside, like this”. The practice is patently illogical: the quotation marks enclose a part of the phrase or sentence, and the comma or period signals the end of that entire phrase or sentence, so putting the comma or period inside the quotation marks is like Superman’s famous wardrobe malfunction of wearing his underwear outside his pants. But long ago some American printer decided that the page looks prettier without all that unsightly white space above and to the left of a naked period or comma, and we have been living with the consequences ever since.”
This is one punctuation rule this reporter feels confident she will never fully master.