April 6, 2014
Peter Matthiessen.

Peter Matthiessen has died. Now would be a great time to read this interview over at The Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER

Can you say which writers have influenced your work?

MATTHIESSEN

A terrible confession—none. Try as I might to claim some creditable literary lineage, I find no trace that I can recognize in my writing. I don’t mean to claim that I am sui generis (though one could argue that all…

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April 1, 2014
Tune In Playlist.

If you’re on Rdio (which I just learned, by the way, is pronounced arr-dee-oh, like a cousin of the famous droid), and want to listen to some fine tunes that inspired the Beatles, I’ve…

Tune In Playlist.

If you’re on Rdio (which I just learned, by the way, is pronounced arr-dee-oh, like a cousin of the famous droid), and want to listen to some fine tunes that inspired the Beatles, I’ve…

March 29, 2014
ToBX Wrap-Up.

The Tenth Tournament of Books is over, and crowned a championwhom yours truly passed through the quarterfinals and voted for in the finals. As I mentioned in my rationale for voting, the finals match-up wasn’t a terribly difficult decision. Its competitor (I’m being vague here to encourage you to follow the link) was, I thought, “supremely inventive,” and had flashes [that were] exquisite,” but…

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March 24, 2014
"March Madness for Book Nerds."

“March Madness for Book Nerds.”

My penultimate (for this year, I promise) post on the Tournament of Books: a great short commentary at the Chicago Reader by Aimee Levitt, quoting extensively from that great Lydia Kiesling judgment.

Watch out, because the finals are coming up Friday (March 28). Yours truly gets a vote in the final. Mouth/lips: sealed.

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March 19, 2014
themorningnews:

"As an attorney, I take comfort in the old legal proverb “the best judge knows least,” as I knew next to zilch about either Elizabeth Gilbert or James McBride or these two books. I’d like to think that this gives my judgment some modicum of objectivity."—Greg Walklin
(via The Morning News Tournament of Books)
Reader judge Greg Walklin helps us see the similarities in seemingly dissimilar The Good Lord Bird by James McBride and The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Today’s match hinges on which book keeps us asking questions. Click through for Walklin’s full ruling.
Which book did you prefer?

Well…I know which one I preferred. So psyched to be the Tournament of Books reader judge this year.

themorningnews:

"As an attorney, I take comfort in the old legal proverb “the best judge knows least,” as I knew next to zilch about either Elizabeth Gilbert or James McBride or these two books. I’d like to think that this gives my judgment some modicum of objectivity."—Greg Walklin

(via The Morning News Tournament of Books)

Reader judge Greg Walklin helps us see the similarities in seemingly dissimilar The Good Lord Bird by James McBride and The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Today’s match hinges on which book keeps us asking questions. Click through for Walklin’s full ruling.

Which book did you prefer?

Well…I know which one I preferred. So psyched to be the Tournament of Books reader judge this year.

March 17, 2014
Walser in disguise.

A nice—and fantastically timed, for me—piece on the new NYRB Classic edition of Robert Walser’s A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories at The Millions:

The text opens with an introduction by Walser that begins: “The boy who wrote these essays passed away not long after he left school.” Then follows 20 essays on discrete topics all written in the voice of an adolescent boy, albeit one with an…

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March 6, 2014
"Driving in darkness toward the next distant city, Author knows that what he’d just experienced was a gift. Really, how much richer could a writing life be than finding, even for one night, one true reader?"

— from What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander.

March 5, 2014
"I’m not sick!” Allen yells. “And I didn’t throw anything away! You want truth and justice and for everything to fit in its place. But some things are in between, Rabbi. They are not right or wrong. Only natural."

— from What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander.

March 3, 2014
The Tenth Tournament of Books.

Today marks the first matchup of the Tenth Tournament of Books, also known as “literary bloodsport” or “ToBX.” Author Geraldine Brooks has to pick between…

The Tenth Tournament of Books.

Today marks the first matchup of the Tenth Tournament of Books, also known as “literary bloodsport” or “ToBX.” Author Geraldine Brooks has to pick between…

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March 2, 2014
"I did the best I could with what I had."

“I did the best I could with what I had.”

Philip Roth, in a retrospective interview:

When I decided to stop writing about five years ago I did, as you say, sit down to reread the 31 books I’d published between 1959 and 2010. I wanted to see whether I’d wasted my time. You never can be sure, you know.

My conclusion, after I’d finished, echoes the words spoken by an American boxing hero of mine, Joe Louis. He was world heavyweight…

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