The Simon & Schuster Suite at the Algonquin

The Algonquin Hotel, known for its rich literary roots and famous former Round Table regulars (including Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley) and Simon & Schuster announced a partnership that will bring hotel guests and New Yorkers an enhanced visit.
The two brands are celebrating the partnership by unveiling the Simon & Schuster Suite and a series of author events. A Simon & Schuster package will offer guests the chance to book a stay in the suite to enjoy its creature comforts from its well-stocked bookcase of classics and advanced copies of new releases as well as book memorabilia. pw.


Grading Higher Education

More than a century ago, the president of Harvard, A. Lawrence Lowell, issued a warning to America’s colleges and universities. “Institutions,” he said, “are rarely murdered. They meet their end by suicide … They die because they have outlived their usefulness, or fail to do the work that the world wants done.” Most of the institutions he had in mind are still around today, but the doomsday talk is back. William J. Bennett, secretary of education under President Reagan, and Jeffrey Selingo, an editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education, believe our system is self-destructing. Their tones are different — Bennett and his co-author, David Wilezol, write in an expectant mood of good riddance, while Selingo is sympathetically alarmed — but their views are grimly consistent. College costs are up. Learning and graduation rates are down. nyt.

I libri di cui si parla sono: William J. Bennett e David Wilezol, Is College Worth It? (Thomas Nelson); e Jeffrey Selingo, College Unbound (New Harvest).


The Oxford English Dictionary has added ‘tweet’ and ‘crowdsourcing’ to its famous lexicon. ... Some notes on the new vocabulary in this batch come from a wide range of semantic regions, as usual. Scientific vocabulary (especially technology) forms a healthy chunk: big data, crowdsourcing, e-reader, mouseover, redirect (the noun), and stream (the verb). mediabistro.


Tim Parks sul rapporto scrittura/autobiografia

Molto interessante e intelligente - come al solito - il problema che Tim Parks dibatte sul suo blog sulla New York Review of Books. "I fear I shall be floating this fanciful idea just to see it shot down, yet it is something my mind has fastened on in recent years: How far is the trajectory of an author’s writing career and the themes that guide it related to the moment and nature of his or her death? 
I have suggested elsewhere that much great narrative writing springs from some unresolved conflict, or we might even say, structural dilemma in the author’s personality. ..." nybooks.


Yoram Kaniuk

Di Yoram Kaniuk, morto qualche giorno fa, fa un bel ritratto Nicole Krauss. "After receiving a hundred of his letters, meeting him fifteen times, either at his apartment on Bilu Street or at a Tel Aviv café, and receiving too many calls from his cell phone to ever hope to return, I gave up trying to count the number of times that Yoram Kaniuk had died. For a while, after the first letter I received from him, in 2010, I’d kept track: He used to say that in 1941, he was killed by the Einsatzgruppen in Ternopil, Ukraine, even though he was eleven at the time, and busy eating sour cream on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv. When he was seventeen, he volunteered for the Palmach, the strike force of the Haganah, fought bloody battles for Israel’s independence in the Judean hills, was shot in the leg, and died in the arms of a nun who quoted the second century rabbi Ben-Azzai in Germanic Hebrew. Later he moved to New York, was treated for his wounds in Mount Sinai Hospital, befriended Charlie Parker, kissed Billie Holiday, stayed for a decade, and died there when he gave up being a painter and returned home.
Back in Tel Aviv, he became one of Israel’s greatest and least celebrated writers, and with each of his seventeen novels and seven short-story collections he died of being neither loved nor read, died the slow and painful death of rejection, poverty, and obscurity. In the last fifteen years of his life, he made a regular habit of dying at Ichilov hospital from various kinds of cancers and their complications—viruses, strokes, infections, pneumonias. Most recently, he died there this past Saturday, following a last meal of oranges, which he loved, after a long and painful struggle with bone-marrow cancer". newyorker.


Joyce Carol Oates: To Marlon Brando In Hell

Because you suffocated your beauty in fat.
Because you made of our adoration, mockery.
Because you were the predator male, without remorse.

Because you were the greatest of our actors, and you threw away greatness like trash.
Because you could not take seriously what others took as their lives.
Because in this you made mockery of our lives.

Because you died encased in fat
And even then, you’d lived too long. port.


Literary Lab

Sarcastico e scettico, John Sunyer del Financial Times, su Franco Moretti e i suoi metodi di critica letteraria. "Here’s some advice for bibliophiles with teetering piles of books and not enough hours in the day: don’t read them. Instead, feed the books into a computer program and make graphs, maps and charts: it is the best way to get to grips with the vastness of literature. That, at least, is the recommendation of Franco Moretti, a 63-year-old professor of English at Stanford University and unofficial leader of a band of academics bringing a science-fiction thrill to the science of fiction.
For centuries, the basic task of literary scholarship has been close reading of texts. But for digitally savvy academics such as Moretti, literary study doesn’t always require scholars actually to read books. This new approach to literature depends on computers to crunch “big data”, or stores of massive amounts of information, to produce new insights. ft.


Top 10 Father Memoirs

Negli Stati Uniti e in Gran Bretagna la festa del papà si celebra il terzo sabato di giugno: quest’anno il 15 giugno. In onore di questo giorno Fathers: A Literary Anthology (Patremoir Press, 2011), ha pubblicato un post sul Books blog del Guardian sui dieci memoriali più significativi sulla figura paterna. Molto interessante. Non ne conosco neanche uno, nemmeno quello di Philip Roth, che si intitola Patrimony: A True Story (tradotto in Italia nel 2007 da Einaudi), e che è la narrazione della morte del padre a causa di un tumore al cervello. Lo andrò subito a cercare. Di esso Gerard dice, "While Patrimony's title hints at a postmodern game, there is nothing playful about the clear-eyed, plain-spoken integrity with which Philip Roth observes his father's dying and remembers his father's life. The father lives on in the "modest no-frills style", and the book is remarkable as a strong tribute paid by a strong son to a strong father". guardian.


I consigli di Joyce Carol Oates agli aspiranti scrittori

I have so much sympathy for aspiring writers. Our profession is difficult to master, and the deluge of advice writers receive doesn’t make it any easier: “Write every day,” “Study the works of writers you admire,” “The essence of writing is rewriting,” etc. Such guidance isn’t wrong, exactly, but it certainly misses the big picture.

As an author with a half century of literary success behind me, I can assure you the only way to make it in this industry is to meet as many publishers as you possibly can and then fuck them. theonion.


Hannah Arendt e Mary McCarthy

Un interessante articolo di Michelle Dean sull'amicizia tra Hannah Arendt e Mary McCarthy (nella foto), rappresentata in modo fuggevole e superficiale dal film di Von Trotta. E invece così non era.
"Many of McCarthy’s contemporaries suggested, or said flat out, that they didn’t know what Arendt saw in her. But Arendt didn’t find her friend’s intellect so obviously minor. She sent McCarthy manuscripts to consider and edit; their letters are laced not only with gossip and household reports but with arguments about what constitutes fiction, about the reach of Fascism, about individual morality and common sense. In other words, Arendt thought there was more to McCarthy than pure cocktail-party style. And Arendt, as they say, was no dummy". newyorker.


A Defense of the Humanities

Nel suo discorso al Commencement di Brandeis University, Leon Wieseltier (nella foto), literary editor di New Republic, ha parlato con calore dell'importanza delle Humanities. "For decades now in America we have been witnessing a steady and sickening denigration of humanistic understanding and humanistic method. We live in a society inebriated by technology, and happily, even giddily governed by the values of utility, speed, efficiency, and convenience. The technological mentality that has become the American worldview instructs us to prefer practical questions to questions of meaning – to ask of things not if they are true or false, or good or evil, but how they work. Our reason has become an instrumental reason, and is no longer the reason of the philosophers, with its ancient magnitude of intellectual ambition, its belief that the proper subjects of human thought are the largest subjects, and that the mind, in one way or another, can penetrate to the very principles of natural life and human life". newrepublic.


Washington Square

Sul blog del New Yorker c'è un bell'articolo di Mona Simpson (docente di inglese al Bard College, nonché sorella di Steve Jobs) su Washington Square, romanzo di Henry James che lo scrittore considerava minore e poco riuscito, uno dei suoi "unhappy accidents". Eppure piace molto ai lettori dei nostri giorni. "Reading this hundred-and-thirty-year-old book, we still feel the intensity of James circling an obsession. His great subject, beneath, between, and everywhere around his characters' complicated tricks and liaisons is the terrible condition of being unable to love". newyorker.