Always feeling anxious? There’s a cure, and it doesn’t involve drugs, medicinal herbs, or shock therapy. Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin recommend reading Henry James’s ‘The Portrait of a Lady.’
To live with anxiety is to live with a leech that saps you of your energy, confidence, and chutzpah. A constant feeling of unease or fearfulness—as opposed to the sense of frustration that characterizes stress—anxiety is both a response to external circumstances and an approach to life. While the external circumstances cannot be controlled, the internal response can. Laughter, or a big intake of oxygen (the former leading to the latter), usually relieves systems at least temporarily, as well as offering an encouragement to relax.
After controversial decision earlier.
Good decision, it being Banned Books Week and all. The Randolph County school board in North Carolina, which represents some 16,000 students, overturned on Wednesday their controversial Sept. 16 decision to ban Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. The board members had to convene an emergency meeting after they were reportedly inundated with outraged emails.
Says he’s not interested in teaching their books.
Canadian author and University of Toronto literature professor David Gilmour both apologized and defended his “I’m not interested in teaching books by women” comment that was published on Wednesday in the online magazine Hazlitt. Gilmour said he is “extremely sorry to hear that there are people who are really offended,” and characterized the statement as “a careless choice of words.” Gilmour said he was speaking to a French colleague while he was doing the interview, and remembered being more concerned about his French accent than what he was saying to the interviewer. He will not alter his syllabus because “I tend to teach people whose lives are a lot like my own, because that’s what I understand best, and that’s what I teach best.” During the Hazlitt interview he also said, "What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller, Philip Roth." Gilmour said that was a joke, and pointed out that he does in fact teach Truman Capote.
‘From Scratch,” a new tell-all history of the Food Network, details the many egos that have clashed on the channel, from Anthony Bourdain trashing everyone to Guy Fieri’s alleged ‘minority’ problems. We speedread the book for the biggest fights.
From journalist Allen Salkin comes From Scratch, a new tell-all history of the Food Network that details the egos, and feuds of the people that made a fledgling upstart a cable TV empire. The precipitous fall of Paula Deen earlier this year wasn’t the first time celebrity chefs found themselves in the midst of scandal. It wasn’t even the first time for Deen. As messy as making food is, making food on TV is messier. Anthony Bourdain vs. Paula Deen After Deen’s 2012 diabetes scandal, an audience member at a food festival asked Anthony Bourdain if the constant smoking on his own program was comparable to Deen’s gratuitous use of butter.
Jonathan Franzen is in a fracas over his comments deploring our literary culture, Amazon, and social media. Michelle Goldberg defends the novelist—and says we should admit we’re losing something important to the Internet.
The Internet gets very angry if you criticize it. Earlier this month, as you probably know, Jonathan Franzen published a nearly 6,500-word lament, modestly titled “What’s Wrong With the Modern World,” about the eclipse of literary culture by a digital swarm of “yakkers and tweeters and braggers.” The reason you probably know this is because the piece was so widely mocked and reviled. “Jonathan Franzen Misses the Old Days, When Women Couldn’t Tweet Back,” Amanda Hess wrote in Slate.
The English novelist Julian Barnes lost his wife several years ago, and in ‘Levels of Life’ he writes his way through grief. Adam Begley on an unconventional memoir/story/essay.
Joan Didion wrote The Year of Magical Thinking in the twelve months following the death of her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne; Antonia Fraser was nearly as speedy with Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter; and Joyce Carol Oates’ A Widow’s Story was mostly composed of raw journal entries from the early weeks and months after the death of her editor husband. Julian Barnes is the outlier in the mini-trend of grieving writers lamenting late literary spouses: He waited a full four years before offering us Levels of Life, a memorial to his wife of three decades, Pat Kavanagh, a London literary agent.
The seasons are changing, but let’s linger for a moment on those books that capture one summer day. From Bellow to Woolf, Matt Seidel on the mystical workings of just 24 hours.
Summer is slipping from our grasp, but before turning our back on those lazy, reading-filled hours, we should take one last, elegiac look at those radiant works structured around summer’s essence: the long, seemingly unending day. That summer’s lease hath all too short a date is all the more reason to memorialize its incomparable days. One such memorial is The Infinities, John Banville’s playful take on Greek myth and multiverse theory. “God…is there anything duller than a summer afternoon?” says the beautiful actress Helen.
The author of the new novel ‘Dissident Gardens’ talks about the MacArthur ‘genius’ grant, being a Mets fan, and working in a walk-in closet.
NC: Describe your morning routine. JL: OK, so my morning routine. Well, my life is totally dictated by the presence of these two wonderfully little boys. I have a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old. They are insane early risers, which forces me to trump them. When I was writing Dissident Gardens, which was the last really good roll I got on, when I was in the full grip of it and needed to work substantially on it every day, I’d get up at 3 or 4 in the morning.
Accidentally by Mississippi’s Sun Herald.
It’s Christmas come early for recipients of the MacArthur “genius” grant. Ahead of the foundation’s press embargo, The Sun Herald accidentally published the list of this year’s “genius” grant recipients, a glaring mistake made even more obvious by the caption under their photo, which reads “hold for release at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.” All of the 24 winners, which vary from jazz composers to organic chemists, will receive $625,000 over the course of the next five years—money that they can spend on, virtually, whatever they want. Among the winners is the 32-year-old author of Swamplandia!, Karen Russell.
Perhaps the opposite.
Reports of the death of the small bookstore may have been, as Mark Twain might say, greatly exaggerated. On the Digital Reader, Nate Hoffelder reports that in the past nine months, the American Booksellers Association has added more than 70 new members. Independent bookstores are finding success by offering what Amazon cannot: community, personal interaction, and a welcoming environment. In addition, many booksellers have adapted to the Internet age by selling e-readers and print-on-demand books. John Evans, a co-owner of four indie bookstores in California, said, “For us who are in the trenches, it’s funny reading about how we’re disappearing when we’re really growing.”
Colombian polymath mourned by nation.
Álvaro Mutis Jaramillo, the prolific Colombian man of letters, died Sunday in Mexico City at the age of 90. Though he worked as a broadcaster, film executive, radio actor, and newspaper columnist, Mutis was most well known for his writing. Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez called Mutis "one of the greatest writers of our time." Mutis’s most enduring creation remains the wandering sailor Maqroll, the star of his many novellas collected in The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll. "The millions of friends and admirers of Álvaro Mutis profoundly lament his death,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos wrote. “All of Colombia honors him."
The author of ‘The Year of Living Dangerously.’
Christopher Koch, one of Australia’s pre-eminent novelists, died Monday after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 81 years old. Koch won The Miles Franklin Award, Australia's most prestigious literary prize, in 1985 for The Doubleman, and in 1996 for Highways to a War. He is best known for 1978’s The Year of Living Dangerously, which Koch co-adapted into a critically and commercially successful film. His final novel, Lost Voices, was published in 2012.
It's national punctuation day! In a new book, Keith Houston investigates the origin and evolution of such punctuation marks as the asterisk (*), the pilcrow (¶), and the octothorpe (#). But it is the quest of a father and son to invent a symbol for sarcasm that will live in infamy.
The irony mark’s inconstant digital existence, begun with the abortive importation of the temherte slaq and sustained by a succession of futile pretenders, has most recently borne witness to one particularly determined project that almost—almost—cracked the problem. Outstripping the ironieteken, the temherte slaq, and their kin by far is the most remarked and reviled irony mark to date. The rise to infamy of the “SarcMark”® is unparalleled in the history of punctuation.
The author of the new e-book ‘Ajax Penumbra 1969’ and the debut novel ‘Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,’ now out in paperback, shares his passion for science fiction, ‘my essential genre.’
We range widely, we readers of fiction, but I think we all need a home. Mine is science fiction. It’s my home shelf, my homeland, my home planet, my essential genre. Without science fiction, without the influence these books have had on me over the years, I'm not sure I would care much about reading or writing today. If a great work of literary fiction is Kafka's "ice-axe to break the frozen sea within us," then a great work of science fiction is the boat.
Among the victims of Al-Shabab’s Nairobi mall massacre was Kofi Awoonor, a 78-year-old poet and statesman in town for a literary festival. Michael Daly celebrates the part of the man that will live on.
Kofi Awoonor was the very opposite of the terrorists who killed him. He was not a destroyer seeking to become exceptional by killing. He was a creator who achieved worldwide renown by writing poetry. The 78-year-old from Ghana came to Nairobi last week to participate in the annual Storymoja Hay literary festival. He gave a master class in poetry Friday, as the killers were preparing to do their worst. He was due to address the gathering later Saturday when he went shopping with his son at the Westgate mall.
The novelist Kevin Baker is back with a meaty, sweaty romp through 1940s and 50s New York. He talks to Allen Barra about the Jewish mob, historical fiction, and how he grades Obama.
James Joyce bragged that if Dublin suddenly ceased to exist, it could be reconstructed, brick by brick, from the pages of Ulysses. Those wishing to reconstruct old New York would be well advised to study Baker’s City of Fire trilogy—Dreamland, Paradise Alley (2002) and Striver’s Row (2006)—which chronicles the rise and fall of America’s greatest city from the Civil War to the 1950s. (Paradise Alley won the 2003 James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction and the American Book Award.
From a Hungarian novelist’s newest to a biography of Richard Wagner.
Seiobo There Below by László Krasznahorkai. The fiction of Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai is often called “obsessive” by critics. For good reason—his sentences are enormous and repetitive, and his subjects are rigorously examined from all angles. He is a master of the breathless paragraph, the hypnotic meditation. James Wood, in a piece about Krasznahorkai’s pull as a postmodernist, noted that the worlds conjured by Thomas Bernhard seem more logical by comparison.
The bebop legend drove jazz into territories that continue to awe listeners with ears fast enough to keep up. The first volume of veteran critic Stanley Crouch’s decades-in-the-making Charlie Parker biography gets to the heart of Bird’s genius, but the book will test your patience, says Stuart Klawans.
The veteran jazz writer Stanley Crouch has a store of fresh information for you in his new book about Charlie Parker (1920–55), the genius of American music universally known as Bird, and invaluable insights to offer into the meaning of Parker’s achievement. It is imperative that you come into possession of this material, contained in Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker—even though, to get at it, you will sometimes feel as if you’re swimming through a vat of Jell-O laced with industrial sludge.
He might be prone to controversial outbursts, but what does the world’s leading atheist and scientist really like to talk about? J.P. O’Malley visits Dawkins in his Oxford home to find out.
Whenever Richard Dawkins’s name appears in the news nowadays, it’s usually for the wrong reasons. The occasional controversial outburst by the British scientist about religion can sometimes be insulting, misinformed, and arrogant. They also make it easy for us to forget why we come to read his work in the first place. While it’s certainly true that Dawkins’s 2006 book The God Delusion was an intriguing riposte to the world of theology, it’s not his area of expertise.
CHILL YOUR BONES
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STRIKE A POSE
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