Discovery of a pottery inscription that may be the oldest known Hebrew text could drastically alter our understanding of King David’s time.
William Wharton, author of Birdy, dies at 82. Not thinking of myself as a writer, he once said, gives me the freedom to be one.
Omnivoracious pays homage to the literature of the states, based on order of joining the union and number of electoral votes.
So I kissed her. It was either that or slug her. Did a Rex Stout book inspire Chandler’s famous line?
Remember the Graham Greene rule of packing books: pack the opposite of where you are going.
Burned out on election talk, yet unsuccessful distracting yourself from it?
I’ve finally given up. If you, too, are ready to embrace the inevitable, come out to Maxx Klaxon’s (some say he bears an uncanny resemblance to your friend and mine, Maximus Clarke) Authoritarian Idol extravaganza tomorrow (Wednesday) night at Monkeytown.
It may be the only time you get to see the Get Your War On videos on the big screen(s). It will definitely be the only time you’ll see the candidates competing in a game show.
NPR is running an audio serialization of Toni Morrison reading from her new novel, A Mercy. Installments each day thru Thurs.
Mark transcribes highlights from a Marilynne Robinson interview — and posts a brief video of the author reading.
As you know if you’re following along, earlier this month I attended the 80th anniversary celebration of the Oxford English Dictionary in Oxford, England.
Oxford University Press covered my airfare and lodging expenses.
Although I normally decline freebie offers from publishers as a matter of course, I accepted the press’s invitation for several reasons.
Chief among them: I personally view the OED as an institution rather than your run-of-the-mill book. I’m a documented longtime admirer. And I wanted to see how the dictionary works up-close, especially now that it’s gone electronic.
I’ll make this disclosure from now on when I mention an OUP book, but please understand that I do this in the interest of avoiding the appearance of impropriety, and not because I believe the trip has affected or will affect the way I read or write about books published by the press.
Thanks to all who came out to Housing Works for our Witches, Demons, and Thieves Puritan Halloween party last night. I’m on deadline, so no time for a recap, but we had fun.
For those who couldn’t make it, here’s the kinda-on-theme trivia quiz we handed out. The best part — aside from William Boggess’ questions — was that the winner, Leah, leapt out of her seat in amazement when told she’d won (with 8/10). She was so excited, I felt like a preacher at a tent revival, but I resisted the impulse to commence the laying on of hands.
1. Which New England author wrote, in praise of Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” “It shall be yours to penetrate, in every bosom, the deep mystery of sin”?
a) Henry James
b) Edith Wharton
c) Herman Melville
d) Harriet Beecher Stowe
2. Witches aren’t unique to New England. According to Roald Dahlâ€™s book The Witches, they are most plentiful in Norway. Identifying Dahlâ€™s witches is a little more of an exact science than it was in Salem, however. Which of these characteristics do Dahlâ€™s witches not have? (Contributed by William Boggess.)
a) They are hairless, forcing them to wear itchy wigs
b) They are toeless, making it nearly impossible to wear fashionable womenâ€™s shoes
c) They have cobalt blue saliva, so they can never spit
d) They have extremely hairy legs, so they must always wear long pants
3. It was Puritan custom to let a house struck by lightning burn down, in deference to the will of God, while trying to preserve the other dwellings nearby. Which sometime admirer of Cotton Mather made a scientific discovery that called this practice into question?
a) Jonathan Edwards
b) Benjamin Franklin
c) Silence Dogood
d) John Winthrop
4. Strings of deaths in families led to the belief, in 19th Century New England, that one of the dead had transformed into a vampire and was returning at night to feast on everyone else. In the most famous of these cases, when Mercy Brown’s brother became ill soon after her death, their father ordered the girl dug up. Finding her oddly well-preserved, and her heart full of fresh blood, he cut out her heart, burned it, and fed the ashes to the boy, who died anyway. What very contagious disease do scientists say was actually killing these people? Continue reading…
Christian Zabriskie talks with Alex Cox (Sid & Nancy) about his new book, X-Films: True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker.
Cast your vote on Bookninja’s hilarious literary novel repackaging entries. Right now I’m leaning toward Blood Meridian.
Literary essay: Akin to the personal essay, only with bigger words and more profound content… Chris Offutt decodes lofty writer speak.
Tonight at Housing Works, I’m hosting Witches, Demons, and Thieves, a Puritan Halloween celebration (costumes optional) featuring authors Hannah Tinti (The Good Thief) and Kathleen Kent (The Heretic’s Daughter), and artist Michael Aaron Lee, a friend whose magnificent forest paintings I first praised here a couple years ago.
Last month I posted a mini-interview with Kent, and now here’s a short talk with Hannah Tinti, whose book Junot Díaz has called “a lightning strike of a novel — beautiful and haunting and ever so bright.” The author is, he says, “a 21st century Robert Louis Stevenson, an adventuress who lays bare her characters’ hearts with a precision and a fearlessness that will leave you shaken.”
Amitava Kumar explains why he stopped reading 2008 Booker prize winner The White Tiger on page 35.