Detail from Giambattista Moretti’s Alphabeta, 1737.
- Should the National Book Award rethink its longlist? “It’s hard to stir interest in the same subject twice, which is what the National Book Award is trying to do.”
- Down with adverbs! “Only two classes of people, it seems, stick up for the adverb: young adults and members of the bar.”
- At auction next month: Giambattista Morandi’s 1737 Alphabeta. (A bargain at two- to three-thousand euros.)
- In the forties, America believed it had at last conquered all airborne illnesses. The secret: germicidal lamps, which at the time were a source of extraordinary optimism. “We can look forward confidently to the fact that within another few years at most, control of airborne infection will be on its way to join control of infections through water, milk and solid foods. Another great frontier will have surrendered to man’s onward march.”
- The Italian novelist Domenico Starnone is fed up with people who think he’s the elusive Elena Ferrante: “Ferrante is not the only one to have written about abandoned women, you know … Let’s say I am Ferrante, or that my wife is. Explain to me one thing: given that it is so rare, in this mud puddle that is Italy, to have international reach, why would we not make the most of it? What would induce us to remain in the shadow?”
- Beethoven gets real: “Everything I do apart from music is badly done and stupid,” he once wrote.