Happy Saturday! Herewith is the best the internet has to offer on books and related topics for the week of August 15, 2016.
- Helen Macdonald, the author of H is for Hawk, has an essay up at the Guardian about goshawks. Like all of her work, it’s extraordinarily vivid and precise:
It was very still and quiet. My feet crunched on salt-crusted mud and across leaf litter sparking with grasshoppers and sinuous silver lizards. After a mile or so, I found myself in an open clearing and looked up. And that is when I thought I saw a man standing in a tree. That’s what my brain told me, momentarily. A man in a long overcoat leaning slightly to one side. And then I saw it wasn’t a man, but a goshawk.
- There’s a new campaign to turn Langston Hughes’s Harlem home — currently vacant — into a cultural center.
- When James Joyce and Marcel Proust — two of the greatest literary minds of their time — met one another, they did nothing but make the world’s most boring small talk:
Joyce said, “I’ve headaches every day. My eyes are terrible.”
Proust replied, “My poor stomach. What am I going to do? It’s killing me. In fact, I must leave at once.”
“I’m in the same situation,’ replied Joyce. “If I can find someone to take me by the arm. Goodbye!”
“Charmé,” said Proust. “Oh, my stomach, my stomach.”
- Ricardo Rolando Hernández’s essay on becoming Salinger’s Seymour Glass is lovely:
Wouldn’t it be fantastic, I remember thinking, to have a quaint old name like Seymour? To introduce yourself as a Seymour, thrusting out your palm for a handshake, would suggest not only that you were white, but that you were a hoity-toity kind of white, descended of old money and grand history. Maybe your family was Jewish, maybe French, maybe British—to be any of those was better than what I really was.
- LitHub has a beautiful account of the birth of a small-town bookstore:
Roth has written that he truly “grew up” in his father’s bookstore. “That bookstore was not only my introduction to literature but also my introduction to the social world surrounding books . . . Literature is an embodied experience that happens between the people you meet as well as between the brain and the page.” Roth’s examination of his father’s meticulousness in arrangement and preparation of his books suggests that bookstores are almost like museums for books: keepers of canons, while possibly flashpoints for change.
- Are the Weasleys the true sugar-hating villains of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Emma Lord makes a compelling argument:
The entirety of Cursed Child is not about repairing a crumbling father son relationship or the power of friendship, but rather to push the Weasleys' new anti-sugar agenda. Astoria Greengrass has a song about candy? Boom, dead of a blood curse (cough, diabetes). Scorpius pushes sweets on an unsuspecting Albus Severus Potter? Boom, their friendship gets torn apart. Hermione sneaks a toffee past Ron? BOOM, she turns into an inexplicably evil shrew in an alternate timeline. Trolley Witch serves candies to adorable children on the Hogwarts Express? BOOM, SHE IS A LITERAL IMMORTAL BANSHEE WITH CRAZY EYES AND CLAWS.
- The Baby-Sitters Club books turn 30 this month! Here at Vox we celebrated with an ode in praise of Kristy, and the Week remembers all the ways those books lied to us about how great it is to be in eighth grade:
The girls in The Baby-Sitters Club may have just been in eighth grade, but they lived lives that were not of the typical teenage variety. They were always going to cool dances and football games and sailing trips and the mall unsupervised. They had boyfriends and were going on dates to French restaurants with names like Chez Maurice. They were adults trapped in middle school. This made me want to be 13 SO BAD.
- I would like to go to this dinner party, please and thank you.
- Gertrude Stein wrote a children’s book!
Everywhere there was somewhere and everywhere there they were men women children dogs cows wild pigs little rabbits cats lizards and animals… Rose was her name and would she have been Rose if her name had not been Rose.