Critical Reads, August 31, 2012: The Guess Who? Edition
- Best of List
“Ask me about The Magic Mountain and I may puree some The End of the Affair into it.”
This week, we went a little board game in literary web reads, asking, "Guess Who?" Sometimes the "who" in question was the Poet Laureate, and others, types of readers. Guess who's the slowest reader? The answer was Benjamin Percy, who wrote an essay for The Rumpus detailing perhaps the most vital practice for aspiring writers: reading slowly. Guess who felt sometimes that his greatest purpose was the put his penis in as many vaginas as possible? That would be the late, great David Foster Wallace. Finally, what's more of a game of "Guess Who" than looking at book covers? Flavorwire collects some first edition classic book covers for those of us completely depressed when a loved book suddenly becomes only available with its hideous movie adaptation cover. And yes, I'm talking about you, The Virgin Suicides.
What Kind of Reader are You? A Diagnostics Guide (The Atlantic)
Recently, Mark O'Connell wrote about his promiscuous reading habits for the New Yorker, prompting this article from The Atlantic about the myriad types of readers. There's the Book-Buster, who loves books to pieces. There's the Multi-Tasker, who can't help but read a bunch of books at once. I'd like to add the MTAer, the reader who only reads on the subway.
The Slowest Reader (The Rumpus)
To the list of reader types, Benjamin Percy adds The Slowest Reader, i.e. himself. In this wonderful essay, Percy recounts how reading more slowly has made him a better writer. For more on this important process of writing auto-education, go do yourself a favor and buy Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer.
How is the Poet Laureate Selected? (Library of Congress Blog)
It's simpler than you'd think. It's not quite democratic. In fact, the Poet Laureate is selected by one person and the luck of logistics: "The Librarian of Congress identifies a poet he'd like to serve as Poet Laureate, confirms that the poet is willing and able to serve as Poet Laureate, and then appoints the poet to the position." There is some counseling involved in the decision-making process however, and this is where it gets interesting. Check out Katherine Anne Porter's advice in 1945. The result: Louise Bogan.
Six Things You Didn't Know About David Foster Wallace (Rolling Stone)
David Foster Wallace is one of those authors who inspires a throng of writerly and vaguely writerly types to reverence. Now, D.T. Max has written a biography of DFW, and Rolling Stone has culled some of the juicier tidbits. What do we learn about the man behind the white bandana and Infinite Jest? Well, writers are human, and yes they do sometimes vote Republican.
The First Edition Covers of 25 Classic Books (Flavorwire)
A couple of years ago I joined a great website, Paperback Swap, where readers can swap books they own but don't want to for books they don't own but do want to. Somewhere along the line, I realized that one of the best parts of the website was being surprised by a rare vintage book cover. And so, for your viewing pleasure: some cool first edition covers from classic books.
Check back every Friday for the next installment of our Critical Reads series.