- He counted both Einstein and Hitler as fans. Rediscovering Karl May.
- “We were breaking down Dad’s library.”
- What Lena Dunham is reading.
- What Olivia Newton-John is reading.
- What, exactly, is YA?
- A passage given to New York’s eighth graders on a standardized reading exam is either a masterpiece of postmodernism or completely incoherent.
- A brief history of the New Yorker’s notable corrections.
My apartment is infested with evil roommates and sad vibes. Being unemployed, I have no refuge. But I refuse to be depressed! Mornings I pack a small bag of books, take to the streets, wander around. But one can only sit on so many benches. Am curious about comfy food places where the management smiles kindly (or just not unkindly) on quiet, unassuming customers who occupy space for many hours, ordering only coffee, or perhaps (eventually) some delicious pie … Suggestions?
Sincerely, Ex Libris
(oh and Manhattan only please)
Dear Ex, We have one of the world’s great reading rooms–at least for now–at the Forty-second Street Library. Having spent years in tiny, often overcrowded apartments, I promise that you will sit longer and read more there than in any café. If you get hungry, there’s a Pret à Manger across the street, not to mention the restaurant and sandwich kiosks in Bryant Park. Enjoy it while you can. Other good reading places—on weekdays especially—are the side room at Cafe Pick Me Up on Avenue A, the Hungarian Pastry Shop in Morningside Heights, and Tarralucci e Vino, either the one off Union Square or the one on East Tenth Street. For weekends, I highly recommend the bar at Vandaag on Second Avenue. No pies, but excellent coffee, strupwafels, and poached eggs.
On the newly redesigned Los Angeles Review of Books, Hua Hsu’s review of a rather fascinating microhistory of office chairs has me wondering whether Charles Darwin invented the wheeled version. It seems he “replaced the legs of his armchair with ‘cast-iron bed legs mounted on casters’ so that he could glide freely throughout his office.” He’s known to have taken daily walks along his “thinking path.” Could it be that the chair’s motion likewise aided him in formulating the theory of natural selection? —Nicole Rudick
I’ve been on an Apollinaire kick, starting with Francis Steegmuller’s chatty 1963 biography, plus the new translation of Apollinaire’s love letters from the trenches and Louis Zukofsky’s strange bilingual homage, Le Style Apollinaire. —Lorin Stein
“The Bible is, for the first time, being translated into Jamaican patois. It’s a move welcomed by those Jamaicans who want their mother tongue enshrined as the national language,” reported the BBC in December. Led by the Bible Society of the West Indies, the translation initiative began with the Gospel of Luke and is scheduled for completion in August of this year. The patois translation has many excited followers, including me, and, though I can’t understand a word, I’m moved by a truth revealed at the heart of this effort: that language shapes and solidifies a people’s identity and sense of belonging. It’s kind of as real as it gets. —Elizabeth Nelson
“There’s one thing I want to make clear right off: my baby was a virgin the day she met Errol Flynn.” I’ve been wanting to read 1961’s The Big Love (Mrs. Florence Aadland as told to Tedd Thomey) ever since I saw Patricia Marx recommend it years ago. You can imagine my delight when I opened my mailbox to find my copy, and I devoured the story—a bizarre tell-all by the mother of the fifteen-year-old who had an affair with the middle-aged actor—within a day. Even to connoisseurs of the lurid, this is jaw-dropping stuff: “When the time came she told me everything she did with Errol Flynn … Everything. And in detail, because she and I love details and get a kick out of sharing things like that.” (It’s all like that.) After Flynn’s death, the liaison came to light, and Mrs. Aadland, convicted of contributing to the corruption of a minor, lost custody of seventeen-year-old Beverly. But she regrets nothing; the tone is as resolutely defiant as it is inappropriate. William Styron called the book “flabbergastingly vulgar.” —Sadie Stein
Nothing against Swamplandia! or The Pale King, but we can‘t help wishing the Pulitzer Board had gotten its act together—and chosen Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, the novella that appeared in our Summer 2002 issue. That would have been our first Pulitzer! As it is, it’s our first Pulitzer nomination. Train Dreams made its original appearance alongside fiction by Aleksandar Hemon and Mary Robison, interviews with Ian McEwan and Louis Begley, plus a radio play by Rick Moody … and we have a few copies in mint condition. Buy yours while supplies last.
- Listen to Allen Ginsberg reading “What Would You Do If You Lost It?” at the 92nd Street Y in 1973.
- One can now purchase a customized classic—think Pride and Prejudice—featuring you as a character.
- Incredibly lovely calligraphy, in action.
- Ted Hughes’s ninety-two-year-old brother, Gerald, is writing a memoir about the boys’ Yorkshire childhood.
- Shameful reading confessions.
- The life of the pencil elitist.
- The Roots, Chris Martin, Regina Spektor, and … Captain Ahab. People of the Book unite! (Adorably.)
- Hemingway’s estate is starting a hotel chain. Hemingway Hotels and Resorts will be Papa-themed. Says the Web site, “An artist needs inspiration to flourish, and so Hemingway was drawn to the world’s most beautiful locales: Paris, Spain, Venice, Key West, Havana, Idaho. Hemingway Hotels will also be found there, and in other beautiful places around the world, in cities and in nature, on beaches and in mountains. Only select hotels will be approved for this iconic brand. For each Hemingway Hotel must be true to its environment, unique architecturally, and committed to providing guests with active, passionate one-of-a-kind experiences that deeply enrich their lives.”
Dear Don Draper,
I think I know what’s wrong. Are you waking to pee in the middle of the night? Suffering from joint pain? Hot flashes? Vaginal dryness?
Don, you’re going through menopause.
I’m kidding. Sort of. No one doubts your manhood, especially not after Sunday’s display of muscle and plumbing. You’re a beefcake, buddy, grade-A American sirloin. When you stripped down to your undershirt it was like you were Spartacus entering the arena. Or, to put it in more modern terms, it was like you were Khal Drogo and the sink was your Khaleesi.
Poor Pete Campbell in his dinky little party tie, face crimson and flush, fawning over you. Twice emasculated, and married to that ballbuster Trudy. She wears hair curlers to bed, Don. Hair curlers!