- Writer A.S. Byatt celebrates surrealist Eileen Agar, an artist who depicted female sexuality in her work. Agar once said the pleasure she took in life was visible, “Like a transparent skirt, or something like that.'” (The Guardian article includes a photograph of the artist wearing a transparent skirt while vacationing with her second husband and Picasso in the 1930’s.)
- George Saunders did the math and has figured out how to save Iraq.
- Bob Minzesheimer eulogizes Larry Brown (R.I.P.), and remembers his last meeting with the author in a Mississippi bar:
I lost count after Brown went through a six-pack of beer, several small bottles of Peppermint schnapps and a few, post-dinner shots of whiskey. By midnight, I was exhausted. But Brown was still going strong at the bar. He was treated not just as a local literary celebrity, but as a very good customer.
Brown barely graduated high school on his way to the Marines but always liked to read. At 31, he sold a short story to a biker magazine and talked himself into a writing class at the University of Mississippi, where novelist Ellen Douglas introduced him to writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff.
After Brown sold another story to Mississippi Review, book editor Shannon Ravenel wrote to ask if had written any others. “About a hundred,” he wrote back.
- The Pearl Theater Company presents a version of Gogol’s play, “Marriage,” which (according to the company) has received only one production since it was published 160 years ago, and highlights the talents of the Russian writer:
The great thing about Gogol is that he seems to have had such a short attention span. In the middle of pursuing some satirical target or social insight like a “serious” writer, he hits on a name or a gag that amuses him so much he lets everything else drop. It’s why Nabokov considered him a great artist and not just a satirist. It’s also why he is so darn funny.
- A new pop-up book about Zora Neal Hurston appeals to a reviewer, who calls it:
an intimate, interactive biography of the renowned writer and anthropologist chock-full of pull-out replicas of documents from handmade Christmas cards to the handwritten draft of the first chapter of her classic novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Includes a CD with interview excerpts and folk songs sung by Hurston.
- New Yorker Festival readings from the following authors are available online: Tobias Wolff, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chang-rae Lee, Jonathan Franzen, E.L. Doctrow, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Dave Eggers.
- Independent booksellers continue to spring up despite the poor odds of success.
- Foetry claims that an assistant district attorney in Georgia offered an informal, oral opinion that a poetry contest sponsored by a university in the state may constitute mail fraud because the winner and the judge “had a prior and on-going business relationship as author and publisher,” and the university “solicited twenty dollars from each entrant on the basis that each entrant ha[d] a fair and equal chance of winning.”