Quick Hits

April 24, 2013

What Should I Read on Vacation?: A Question I Never Took Lightly Again 1

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This theory of vacation books, which I subscribe to so heartily, all began with a vacation I took, to London, which was one of the worst decisions I ever made, and the book I took along, Banvard’s Folly, which was one of the best.

November 20, 2012

Goodwill in Brooklyn: On Donating Books to Unexpected Readers 13

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I am uncomfortable shedding books. The three boxes my husband and I were holding, plus three more in the trunk of the car, were the result of a careful purge executed after living abroad for a year.

November 16, 2012

Cyber-Babbittry: Conventionality and Banality Are Alive and Well on the Internet 2

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Whether the information comes via a Twitter newsfeed or from 20th-century church fellows, ads, and business pals, the effect is the same. Leave it to the crowds! Let the masses decide! This is still straight Babbittry.

October 26, 2012

All Hallow’s Read: A Parents’ Guide to Scary Books for Young Readers 6

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As someone who models most attempts to spread her personal taste on the Marshall Plan, I am apt to seize any opportunity for book-gifting with fevered delight

October 4, 2012

All Creatures Great and Small: On Animals in Literature 2

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A brief catalogue of non-human animals seen and discussed in its pages would include deer, bees, ducks, a turkey, cats, a caterpillar, a goat, a pig, some chickens, an owl, two wasps, a peahen, horses, bats, some birds that are not further identified, and a snake. This seems to me, if not quite excessive, then at least curious.

August 24, 2012

Excerpt: The Opening Paragraphs of D.T. Max’s Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace 18

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The first definitive treatment of David Foster Wallace’s life arrives next week.

July 26, 2012

The Rules: A Brief Instruction Manual for Writing Classes 3

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You would think it doesn’t need clarification, but apparently it does: When told to talk about a book you admire, it’s best to choose one you’ve already at least opened.

July 9, 2012

Exclusive: The First Lines of Zadie Smith’s NW 18

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There’s a lot for readers to look forward to in the second-half of the year, and high up on the list is Zadie Smith’s first novel in seven years, NW.

June 6, 2012

Exclusive: The First Lines of Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue 7

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We’re already looking ahead to a number of exciting titles coming this fall, and near the top of that list is Michael Chabon’s new novel Telegraph Avenue.

April 27, 2012

Let’s Translate this Thing: Murathan Mungan’s Cities of Women 13

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Anglophones have a rare opportunity here for a bit of friendly cultural one-upmanship with the French: In a talk last summer, Mungan told the assembled that his French publishers rejected Cities of Women because they wanted to advertise him strictly as a novelist. The introduction of his stories and plays and poems to the market, they told him, would “confuse” the French people.