It’s a mystery – one that Susan Orlean, author of the new The Library Book, says may never be solved. But she started out wanting to write about the day-to-day life of a city library. “”I liked the idea of doing it in L.A., out of this contrarian idea that people don’t associate libraries with L.A., which made it kind of delectable.
Well, at least not when the book is a new one from Haruki Murakami. There are contests, and there are ghost cats and there’s pasta. “When during a quiz at the Three Lives launch party a woman won a large tote bag containing a bag of pasta and a jar of tomato sauce, she got the biggest cheers of the night.”
The Guadaloupean writer, author of I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem and other books, won The New Academy Prize in Literature, “a new prize established by a group of over 100 Swedish cultural figures as a substitute for this year’s Nobel in Literature, which was not awarded for the first time since 1949 because of a sexual misconduct scandal.”
Ashley Fetters talks with classics scholar Donna Zuckerberg (yes, Mark’s sister) about what the “Red Pill” community — “the corner of the internet dominated by men’s-rights activists, the alt-right, pickup artists, and the sex-eschewing communities known as Men Going Their Own Way” — finds in these ancient Latin books (e.g., Ovid’s Ars Amatoria) and how they misread and misuse the texts.
Daniel Mendelsohn: “While our forebears looked confidently to the text of the Aeneid for answers, today it raises troubling questions. … Two thousand years after its appearance, we still can’t decide if [Virgil’s] masterpiece is a regressive celebration of power as a means of political domination or a craftily coded critique of imperial ideology — a work that still has something useful to tell us.”
Kwame Anthony Appiah, chair of the judges, implicitly blamed editors for the poor quality of some of this year’s submissions while announcing the 2018 shortlist: “We occasionally felt that inside the book we read was a better one, sometimes a thinner one, wildly signalling to be let out.” Fellow judge Val McDermid went further by suggesting modern editors don’t know what they’re doing. “I think,” she said, “young editors coming through are not necessarily getting the kind of training and experience-building apprenticeship that happened when I was starting out.”
Lloyd Alexander, author of the five-volume series The Chronicles of Prydain, was deeply influenced by Sartre; indeed, he was the first to translate Nausea into English. “Despite Alexander’s remarkable role in the history of existentialism, oddly no one has made any connection between that philosophy and his own work” — until Jesse Schotter, here.
The average person “consumes about 34 gigabytes across varied devices each day” — some 100,000 words’ worth of information. “Neither deep reading nor deep thinking can be enhanced by the aptly named ‘chopblock’ of time we are all experiencing, or by 34 gigabytes of anything per day,” Maryanne Wolf argues.