Man Booker judge Colin Thubron expressed frustration with gushing book blurbs, which he says “almost blackmail” readers: “you’re either intellectually or morally incompetent if you don’t love this book or you’ve failed if you haven’t understood it.” Our own Bill Morris tackled the age old question—”To Blurb or not Blurb”—a few years ago.
This week, our own Lydia Kiesling took part in The Morning News Tournament of Books, where she adjudicated a showdown between Scott McClanahan’s Hill William and Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. Who went on to the next round: the trans-Pacific odyssey, or the tale of West Virginia? (You could also read our own Edan Lepucki’s Tournament contribution from last year, or else read our own Nick Moran’s Year in Reading piece on Scott McClanahan.)
Over the course of a half-century, Vladimir Nabokov wrote hundreds of letters to his wife Vera, which are being published in book form this week for the first time. Among other things, they reveal the absurd pet names he invented for her (such as Goosykins and Monkeykins) and display Nabokov musing over whether or not to borrow a friend’s castle for the summer. Also worth reading: our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
How did Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean create one of DC's most popular comics in history? The Guardian finds out the inspiration behind The Sandman. McKean shares the stories behind his favorite covers, and Gaiman also addresses his resemblance to Dream. "I suppose he looks like me, though. But that's one of those peculiar things where you gradually start to look like your dog."
They've called him a sports icon, a "national nightmare," an author, and a punchline. They've questioned the backlash against him, and tracked his particular brand of "muscular Christianity." Coincidental religious symbolism has been noted. Yet so far nothing has come close to genius of Jimmy Fallon's rendition of Tim Tebow as... TeBowie.