Thursday afternoon miscellany

  • Speaking of Alison Bechdel (last item), Ginia Bellfante accompanies the author on a tour of her childhood home, lovingly restored to Victorian splendor by her closeted teacher/undertaker/control freak father before his death 26 years ago. Bechdel’s dad was killed four months after she came out to him. He and the house are memorialized in Fun Home. (See image above.)
  • And speaking of left-brain literature (ninth item), Alex of Math Fiction chuckles over the sole mathematical passage in The Fermata, a deranged yet sexuous novel by Nicholson Baker that, for reasons of plot and content, I do not advise reading in a coffee shop surrounded by Smith College students. Which is exactly how I first read it. (Thanks, Jason.)
  • Samuel Johnson, realizing he couldn’t meet the deadlines for his famous dictionary, “simply abandoned the job” for several years, “ignoring increasingly frantic messages from his commissioning editors.”
  • Yesterday Etgar Keret and Samir El-Youssef, co-authors of a story collection called Gaza Blues, appeared on Fresh Air to talk about the war in the Middle East. (Via Laila Lalami, who says, “My favorite anecdote about th[eir] collaboration is one Keret told…. After they had finished [a] reading [in Paris], a woman raised her hand and said, ‘I’ve been listening to the two of you talk for the last hour, and I’m still confused: Which one of you is the Israeli? And which one the Palestinian?'”)


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