It is of course always dangerous to make conclusions about an author from her/his books.
But like a lot of readers, especially teen readers, I thought about the lives of authors all the time when I read their books.
I was a big fan of Bret Easton Ellis in high school, but I always suspected he was a jerk.
For better or worse, twitter has allowed us to know much more about the actual human beings who write books. It turns out that I was totally right about Bret Easton Ellis being a jerk!
Wallace’s work can be needy (but it is self-consciously needy). It can be conservative (but so what? In both structure and language, Wallace’s work was also more radical and disruptive than any contemporary novelist I’ve read. Certainly up there with Toni Morrison. The tension between the conservative ideas in a postmodern context is part of what makes Wallace’s work so important and interesting).
But I am really bothered by the accusation of pretension. I don’t really know why it annoys me so much. I guess Ellis’s central talent is as an irritant. I suspect he wouldn’t even mind my saying so, which is even more irritating. But anyway, in my opinion Wallace’s writing is radically unpretentious. Wallace’s stories tackle very complex ideas in ways that are consistently playful and accessible, and that is their genius. Yes, Wallace’s work can be exhausting and tedious because of its obsessive need to be clear and precise and intellectually rigorous. But that isn’t pretension.
A crossdressed F. Scott Fitzgerald during his years at Princeton.
While interning at the American Library in Paris a few summers ago, I came across this issue of Library Journal from 1950. This is sweet, beautiful proof that we’ve been worried about new media making reading obsolete for oh … ever.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
A Partial Inventory of Gustave Flaubert’s Personal Effects
As Catalogued by M. Lemoel on May 20, 1880, Twelve Days after the Writer’s Death.
In the bedroom on the first floor:
red silk cravat
5 pairs of gloves
2 dressing gowns
7 walking sticks
two pairs of boots
In the dining room:
35 champagne glasses
48 porcelain dinner plates
a painting representing Napoléon I
a pocket watch in a gold case engraved with initials ‘GF’
a gold watch chain
a gold signet ring with square stone
a silver spoon and two forks marked ‘N flaubert’
5 oyster-knives with black handles and silver blades
In the study on the first floor:
Engraving in oakwood frame representing The temptation of Saint Antoine by Callot
Marble clock with bronze figurines, maker’s name ‘Destigny’ engraved on dial
Photographic reproduction of painting entitled Visions
Array consisting of lances, javelins, arrows, mandolin, Basque drum, axe, oriental pipe, cardboard Chinese statuette
Large round table in mahogany
Green woolen tablecloth
One tiger skin, one lynx skin, one bear skin, white
Penholder in the shape of dragon
Three paperknives, one with initials ‘GF’
Two Egyptian lanterns
Unfinished manuscript of work entitled Bouvard et Pécuchet
Creuzer, Religions of Antiquity in 11 vols
Works of Saint Theresa in Migne edition
Works of Walter Scott in 32 vols.
(In the drawer of one of the small bookcases is found the sum of 2515 francs, which sum is deposited with Maitre Bidault to cover funeral expenses, burial charges, and other debts.)
Eslite is the bees’ knees. The flagship store on Tunhua S. Road is open 24 hours a day.
At first glance, Hong Kong seems an enviable hub for bibliophiles: It’s home to a buzzing book fair, a well-regarded literary festival, two creative-writing programs and Asia’s most prestigious literary prize. But in terms of bookstores, it has so far lagged behind other Asian cities such as Tokyo, Taipei and even Bangkok.
That may be about to change with the arrival of Eslite, a Taiwanese bookstore chain famous not only for an extensive collection of books but also in-house art galleries, cultural events, designer products and cafés.
(Source: Wall Street Journal)