- Looking for good summer reading? Our editor, Lorin Stein, went on NPR’s On Point to discuss the season’s best books.
- Between 1935 and the early forties, the WPA issued some two million silkscreened posters. Whatever their subjects and intentions—some were public health initiatives, others supported the parks, and others still were straight-up propaganda—the posters, in their ubiquity, had a profound effect on graphic design and commercial art. “The surge of interest in new typographical design and the influence of the WPA Poster Project’s supervisor, Richard Floethe, had a dynamic effect on the project designers. Floethe had studied at the Bauhaus and genuinely believed in a utilitarian approach to art. The designer, he felt, should be equally at home in industrial design, stage design, typography or painting. Good visual thinking could be applied to any discipline.”
- If there’s one thing unifying the work Astrid Lindgren, it’s her “affection for the defiant self-possession of some children”: “There is a manuscript scholars call the ‘Ur-Pippi,’ the first draft of the Pippi Longstocking stories that Lindgren, then a young mother, wrote in the 1940s. The original Pippi was more truly a classic trickster … In order to tame that Pippi slightly for public consumption, Lindgren’s publisher persuaded her to tone the story down … For example, Pippi actually apologizes to the schoolteacher she has defied and does not, in her madcap rescue of children from a burning building, accidentally-on-purpose smash a chamber pot (as she did in the draft).”
- Fun fact: our Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, is in a band. They’re called Life of Saturdays. We hadn’t known this until earlier today, when we found a review of their debut album So How We Seem in the Wilmington Star News: “Sullivan’s distinctive vocals, which range from a pretty falsetto to a throaty wail, take center stage on rock anthem ‘American Boy.’ Whether it’s about the immaturity of the American male, U.S. imperialism or something else is hard to figure, but nothing can mask the awesomeness of the line, ‘Set my phasers on joy / Because I am an American boy.’”
- Loot, nirvana, pajamas, shampoo, shawl, bungalow, jungle, pundit, thug … how did these and other Indian words come to enter the English language? For clues, look to Hobson-Jobson: The Definitive Glossary of British India, first published in 1886.
If you’ve only ever seen the awkwardly acted 1969 film Pippi Longstocking, in which Pippi tokes up with her young friends (not to mention Peppi Dlinnyychulok, the very weird Soviet version), you’re in for a treat. In the late fifties, Pippi author Astrid Lindgren published a comic strip about her precocious young heroine in the Swedish children’s magazine Humpty Dumpty. Drawn & Quarterly is bringing these strips to the U.S. for the first time ever, and while they’re fun to read, the best part—hands down—is Ingrid Vang Nyman’s art. Relying on bold blocks of color and bright, simple designs, the panels are midcentury children’s art at its finest. —Nicole Rudick
What would you do if you were a passenger in a hijacked plane that circles the Dallas metropolitan area for over twenty years? An interesting question, to say the least, and one Manuel Gonazales proposes in the first story, “Pilot, Copilot, Writer,” in his Borgesian debut, The Miniature Wife: and Other Stories. However, instead of dwelling on the fantastical and farfetched elements of the plot, Gonzales concentrates on the interactions between the passengers, the emotions that birth from the subtle tragedy of plane travel that extends well beyond some of the character’s years. The routines of ordinary life never seemed so extraordinary. —Justin Alvarez
- George Orwell, on food.
- Frederick Seidel, on motorcycles.
- Teenage Bronte, on the block.
- New classics?
- Overrated hacks?
- Pippi, a racist?
- The cult of Betsy-Tacy.
- The Art of Protein Bars.
- The Lego Bible.
- The Jeopardy! Pyramid of Greatness.
- The letters of Wodehouse: “Found in both his fiction and his letters, terms such as “posish,” “eggs and b,” and “f i h s” (“fiend in human shape”) create a clubby feeling of intimacy between writer and reader.”
- Journalism booms in Libya.
- “I’m scared of dying in the middle of a book. I leave notes out in my room so that if I die people know how to finish it.”
This spring, exiting the Stockholm-Arlanda airport, I found myself in a hall which enthusiastically proclaimed, “Welcome to Sweden!” From its walls, huge portraits of the country’s greatest cultural exports greeted me, head shot after head shot. There were actors and directors (Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Ingmar Bergman), austere portraits of authors (Astrid Lindgren, August Strindberg), and, in 1970s color, ABBA under disco lights, and Bjorn Borg, whacking a tennis ball. At the end of this procession, as if its grand finale, was a full-body photograph of Stieg Larsson. His head rested on his hand, in a position not unlike that of Rodin’s thinker. It’s a familiar photograph, the same one that appears on the back of each of his books: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.
The Millennium trilogy, as the three are called, has sold more than fifty-one million copies worldwide. Larsson, who died in 2004 of a heart attack, at the age of fifty, never saw the success of his fiction, which he wrote mostly on the side. For him, the books were “like therapy,” his partner Eva Gabrielsson writes in her memoir ‘There Are Things I Want You to Know’ About Stieg Larsson and Me. Read More