Jeff VanderMeer highly recommends a new graphic novel about imaginary beasts, influenced by Bruegel and Bosch. (“With names like the Long Necked Lotus Loris, Northern BaronBeest, and Spangled Swamp Horse we should be well into dangerous ‘whiimsy’ territory, but somehow even the floating creatures seem fully grounded in something real.”) . . . The more I read about David Shields’ new book, the more I want to read it, to see if it could possibly annoy me as much as I think it will. . . . In 1978, Nicola Nikolov, a writer who had fled communist Bulgaria to come to the U.S., wrote letters to John Cheever, J. D. Salinger, Ray Bradbury, and Kurt Vonnegut asking them to evaluate some of his work. He kept their responses. . . . If you’re in the market for the worst novel ever written, be patient: I believe it’s on its way. . . . Peter Terzian looks at the thriving art of painting book covers and some of the top practitioners. (“It’s surely no coincidence that artists are choosing the book as a subject in this era of new reading technologies. But these paintings are too joyous and affectionate to be memento mori for the printed word.”) . . . Chad Post writes about eight Latin American novels that deserve to benefit from “Bolañomania.” . . . To mark Presidents’ Day, the Daily Beast ranks the 19 best-read presidents. Millard Fillmore is No. 12. I won’t spoil any more than that. . . . Sarah Weinman rounds up reaction to the death of Dick Francis.
Friday February 19th, 2010