Let’s do it!


Today’s post is dedicated to Carson McCullers’s brilliant first novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, which was published to great acclaim almost 75 years ago when the author was just 23. This novel is for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider or reject. I recently re-read the 1940 classic, and have collected various editions and incarnations of the book, most of my adult life. Here’s a sampling.  

Here’s another one!

(via skylightbooks)


The 2014 National Book Award Longlist for Nonfiction is an eclectic selection of histories, philosophy, reportage, and a graphic memoir.

  • Roz ChastCan’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury)

  • John DemosThe Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic
    (Alfred A. Knopf/ Random House)

  • Anand GopalNo Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes
    (Metropolitan Books/ Henry Holt and Company)

  • Nigel HamiltonThe Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941 - 1942 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

  • Walter IsaacsonThe Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Simon & Schuster)

  • John LahrTennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (W.W. Norton & Company)

  • Evan OsnosAge of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
    (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

  • Ronald C. RosbottomWhen Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944 
    (Little, Brown and Company/ Hachette Book Group)

  • Matthew StewartNature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic (W.W. Norton & Company)

  • Edward O. WilsonThe Meaning of Human Existence 
    (Liveright Publishing Corporation/ W.W. Norton & Company)

Alison Bechdel winning a MacArthur Genius Grant?




The MacArthur “genius grants” were announced just after midnight. Winners include cartoonist and graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel, playwright Samuel D. Hunter, translator and poet Khaled Mattawa and poet Terrance Hayes.

Alison Bechdel was commended for “expanding the expressive potential of the graphic form in intricate narratives that explore the complexities of familiar relationships.” Bechdel’s comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, ran from 1983 to 2008. “The characters in my comic strip … are all thinly veiled versions of myself,” she told the MacArthur Foundation. “No matter what they look like … they’re all basically me.” Her memoirs include Fun Home, about her father, which she talked about  with Liane Hansen in 2006, and a book about her mom titled Are You My Mother?, which she discussed with Guy Raz in 2012. In a Q&A with NPR on Tuesday, she said:

"I guess I’m proudest of just really sticking with this odd thing I loved and was good at — drawing comics about marginal people (lesbians) in a marginal format (comics). I never thought much about whether that was responsible, or respectable, or lucrative."

Khaled Mattawa was recognized for “rendering the beauty and meaning of contemporary Arab poetry accessible to an English reader and highlighting the invaluable role of literary translation in bridging cultural divides.” He says he finds it “moving and rewarding” to connect poets and readers who otherwise would not have been connected. “There were many great Arab poets who were not available in English, so it seemed important for me to bring them to the American reader,” Mattawa told the MacArthur Foundation. Mattawa spoke with NPR back in February 2011 about his birthplace, Benghazi, Libya, which had just seen an uprising against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi. He told Guy Raz:

“I feel rebirth, greatly honored to be from Benghazi. I feel slightly ashamed at having distrusted the people or my fellow citizens at not being able to rise. And I feel a great sense of solidarity with the people of my city. I’m overjoyed.”

Terrance Hayes was recognized for “reflecting on race, gender, and family in works that seamlessly encompass both the historical and the personal and subvert canonical forms.” Tune in to All Things Considered tonight to hear Melissa Block’s conversation with Hayes. “I’m pursuing a kind of language which is just as complicated and just as transparent as human experience,” he told the MacArthur Foundation. NPR featured Hayes’ poem “The Blue Terrance” back in 2006.

Samuel D. Hunter was commended for “quietly crafting captivating dramas that explore the human capacity for empathy and confront the socially isolating aspects of contemporary life across the American landscape.” Drawing inspiration from his Idaho hometown, Hunter says his plays are an “experiment in empathy.” He tells the MacArthur Foundation: “The plays are very plainspoken. I’m not interested in making a kind of art that goes over anybody’s heads. … I want them to be accessible.”

Clockwise from top left: Alison Bechdel, Samuel D. Hunter, Terrance Hayes and Khaled Mattawa. Images Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.


(Source: riddlemetom, via bluestockingbookworm)

It’s a good week to be an Italo Calvino fan, folks! Two new translations and all of the cosmicomics together for the first time. Happy reading!

THE COMPLETE COSMICOMICS by Italo Calvino. The definitive edition of the cosmicomics, Italo Calvino’s short stories exploring natural phenomena and the origins of the universe. The Complete Cosmicomics brings together all of these enchanting stories — including some never before translated — in one volume for the first time. 

COLLECTION OF SAND by Italo Calvino. The last of Italo Calvino’s works to appear during the author’s lifetime, Collection of Sand is a group of essays never before published in English, discussing subjects ranging from cuneiform and antique maps to Mexican temples and Japanese gardens.

INTO THE WAR by Italo Calvino. Appearing here in its first English translation, Into the War contains three stories drawing on Italo Calvino’s memories of the Second World War in Italy.

Pillsbury The Big Book of Easy Baking with Refrigerated Dough. Must-have recipes that use prepared dough, showing its ease and versatility in a wide variety of recipes from pies and pizzas, to cookies and casseroles. Perfect for both the Pillsbury enthusiast and the time-pressed home baker, the 200 recipes and 100 photos provide inspiration as well as delicious recipes.

THE LEAP: The Science of Trust and Why it Matters by Ulrich Boser. Best-selling author Ulrich Boser explores how we and the institutions we rely on have much to gain from emphasizing and rebuilding trust. 



The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances by Ellen Cooney is a wonderful and feel-good story; it really just provided me with this sense of calm while reading. I cannot describe it any better than by saying it just felt like a soothing salve for my soul. Your heart will



Italo Calvino

New rejackets of Calvino’s COLLECTION OF SAND and INTO THE WAR are on sale tomorrow, as well as THE COMPLETE COSMICOMICS!
Buy here.


Italo Calvino

New rejackets of Calvino’s COLLECTION OF SAND and INTO THE WAR are on sale tomorrow, as well as THE COMPLETE COSMICOMICS!

Buy here.

(via booklover)