At Vulture, Kathryn Schultz praises Geoff Dyer’s uncanny success with books “based on dubious ideas”—say, the unpromising “scene-by-scene analysis of a three-hour Russian film,” or the annoying-sounding book about “the author’s inability to write it.” But Dyer is a master: “The essential fact about [his] nonfiction is that it works beautifully when it shouldn’t work at all.” Another Great Day at Sea came out yesterday.
Speaking of the BookExpo—or BEA, as it’s known—a good twenty thousand “industry folk” are expected to attend this year’s convention, which will be held May 28-31 at the Javitz Center in Manhattan.
The New York Review of Books offers a grim new poem by Frederick Seidel, “Robespierre”: “There’s a wishing well in hell / Where every wish is granted. / Decapitation gets decanted. / Suppose you have the chance / To guillotine the executioner after having guillotined everyone else in France?”
At the Paris Review Daily, Ted Trautman reports from Austin’s O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships. In the “Punslingers” portion of the event, contestants compete to come up with as many puns as possible on a given theme, a game that “rewards a contestant for the quantity of her puns rather than their quality.” The going wasn’t easy: “As the moderators explained several times, in a refrain later echoed by desperate contestants defending their ripostes, ‘It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be a pun.’”
Lisa Darms, an archivist at the Fales Library, interviews Hedi El Kholti of Semiotext(e) about the independent publisher’s inclusion in the Whitney Biennial. “I am not sure if a press belongs in a museum show,” El Kholti says, but “there is a tradition of reading rooms in museums.” And “a lot of things end up in the art world because it’s the last remaining place that offers some kind of freedom and a context.”