Tuesday October 12th, 2010

In the Ether

phone-bookI had no idea there was such a variety of looks for phone books. Astonishing. . . . If you’re looking for the quickest way to become familiar with literature’s newest Nobel winner, the Guardian lists his five most essential novels. This, about the 1977 novel Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, made me laugh: “The plot is loosely based on the story of Vargas Llosa’s own first marriage, at the age of 19, to the then 32-year-old Julia Urquidi, who was indeed his aunt by marriage. Urquidi later gave a rather different account of her relationship with Vargas Llosa in a memoir, Lo que Varguitas no dijo (What Little Vargas Didn’t Say).” . . . A.N. Devers goes looking for Edgar Allan Poe’s house, which is inside the boundaries of the oldest housing projects in Baltimore: “Our romantic need to idealize historic places presents a particular challenge for writers’ homes, for so many of our best writers lived in obscurity or led notoriously dysfunctional lives.” . . . Ellen Handler Spitz reads a new edition of the Brothers Grimm, and wonders why anyone would suggest that children should be “protected” from their tales. . . . The New Yorker’s Book Bench starts a new series of interviews with book designers, about specific books. First up: Rodrigo Corral on his cover for Gary Shteyngart’s latest. . . . A few translators respond to a series of recent posts by Lydia Davis, and then Davis responds back in the comments. Got that? . . . John Eklund considers the best way to shelve biographies, and then lists several notable bios being published by Yale this season.