Staff Picks: A Fan’s Notes, Foster Wallace on TV


This Week’s Reading

In light of the recent article about TV producer Michael Schur and his obsession with David Foster Wallace, I spent tropical storm Irene watching the first two seasons of Parks and Recreation for signs of the maestro. At least, that’s why I watched the first couple of episodes. Then, well—it was just like that scene in Infinite Jest with the Saudi medical attaché, only with Netflix. —Lorin Stein

September is officially the beginning of football season in America and the perfect time to read the best football book ever written, Frederick Exley’s fictional memoir A Fan’s Notes, which has nothing to do with the game and everything to do with why we watch it. —Cody Wiewandt

I was immediately taken with Jeff Sharlet’s new book Sweet Heaven When I Die. All I had to do was open to the first lines of  “Sweet Fuck All, Colorado:” “When I was eighteen I fell hard for the state of Colorado as embodied by a woman with long honey blond hair and speckled green eyes, who drank wine from a coffee mug and whiskey from the bottle.” —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn

I escaped the hurricane but got stuck in Chicago this weekend, which at least gave me a chance to spend time at one of my favorite Evanston bookstores, Market Fresh Books (they sell books for $3.99 a pound!). Among the treasures I picked up was an illustrated 1882 edition of Nicholas Nickleby, which I was all the more excited to dive into after reading in last week’s New Yorker about all the “fun” at Dickens camp. —Ali Pechman

Let’s hear it for small presses! Bookthug, an indie house in Toronto, recently reissued bpNichol’s The Captain Poetry Poems. Originally released as a mimeograph by bill bissett in 1970, Bookthug’s edition marks the first complete publication of all of the poems in the series, plus a smattering of drawings by Nichol. This is joyous, mythmaking poetry at its best. —Nicole Rudick

In anticipation of a visit to the hometown of publishing house David R. Godine, I’ve been enjoying Godine author Joe McKendry’s Beneath the Streets of Boston. It’s a historical picture book about the country’s first subway system. McKendry’s sepia-toned watercolors are nostalgic and exacting, his prose accessible to readers young and old. Now I’m really looking forward to March, when Godine will be rolling out a new McKendry book about Times Square.Clare Fentress

For the anniversary of his emergence from the woods—and because I didn’t get out of the city this summer—I’ve been rereading Thoreau’s Walden. How could I have forgotten the war between the red ants and the black ants, the wild loon chase across the pond? Thoreau sees everything with new eyes. —Robyn Creswell

The stormy weekend was a good excuse to do nothing but read (not that I need one) and I made a little dent in my TBR pile. A friend had been recommending Muriel Spark’s Memento Mori for years, and I can’t believe it took the threat of a hurricane to get me reading. It’s simultaneously a meditation on death and on the indignities of age—and it’s completely, utterly hilarious. —Sadie Stein

I thought I’d read all of Anthony Hecht’s work until I received this month’s Poetry magazine, which features a portfolio of his uncollected poems. It’s haunting stuff, much of it about his time as a solider, interspersed with letters, photographs, and art. —A.P.