- New York Observer veteran Peter Kaplan has died, at the age of fifty-nine.
- At the Girolamini Library in Naples, a librarian has been accused of “one of the most dramatic thefts ever to hit the rare-book world.” Pilfered volumes include rare editions of Aristotle, Descartes, and Machiavelli.
- New Zealand’s national airline has painted a giant image of the dragon Smaug, from The Hobbit, on the side of one of its planes.
- So, how are the leaked J. D. Salinger stories?
What we’ve been reading this week.
- The June issue of the Columbia Journalism Review continues to float around the office. Maureen Tkacik’s cover story, on the career facing a young journalist today, is the best thing I’ve read on the subject.
- To my shame I had never read Dave Hickey’s Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy until this Monday. The essay “Shining Hours/Forgiving Rhyme” moved me to tears in the barber chair. There are four different friends to whom I want to send my copy of this masterpiece—right now—but I’ve marked up so many favorite passages, I’ll need to copy them out first. Plus I can’t decide who needs or deserves it most.
- I have left a copy of the new Open City in the bathroom that others might discover Samantha Gillison’s wry, wistful story “The Conference Rat.”
- Also this week I read Stephen Burt’s Close Calls with Nonsense, a collection of his reviews. Over the last dozen years, Steve has taught me more than any critic about contemporary poetry. The book is kind, wise (at times, exasperatingly wise) and full of insight. The last pages, a series of aphorisms, made me love it.
- Smithsonian magazine is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year. I’m enjoying their rich, deep “Forty Things You Need to Know About the Next Forty Years.” The magazine’s founding editor, Edward K. Thompson, said it “would stir curiosity in already receptive minds.” Mission accomplished. Favorite articles include: “6. Oysters Will Save Wolves From Climate Change,” “21. Science Could Enable A Person To Regrow A Limb,” “26. Novelists Will Need A New Plot Device” (poet Rita Dove on the future of literature), and “36. Goodbye, Stereo; Hello, Hyper-Real Acoustics” (Laurie Anderson on the sounds of the future).