At the New Yorker’s Page-Turner blog, Parul Sehgal considers the work of Muriel Spark, on the occasion of New Directions reissuing her work. Spark’s cruel and beautiful fiction teaches us, Sehgal says, “how powerlessness can make you an expert in the art of appraisal—in assessing someone’s market price down to the penny.”
Tonight at the Brooklyn Public Library, PEN is holding a reading to promote freedom of speech in China. The event will feature Sergio De La Pava, Jennifer Egan, Ha Jin, Alison Klayman, Chang-rae Lee, and Victoria Redel.
Opponents of the city’s plans to overhaul the main branch of the New York Public Library have intensified their efforts. A letter to the Mayor’s office, signed by fifteen prominent New Yorkers (including Susan Sarandon, Gloria Steinem, and Al Sharpton), quotes Lydia Davis as saying that the plan “would take the very heart out of one of New York City’s finest institutions.” The proposed renovation demolishes the 42nd Street research stacks.
Vanity Fair has a 20,000 word feature on Edward Snowden.
The respective writers of five (reportedly) funny books talk to Salon. Adam Wilson, author of the short-story collection What’s Important Is Feeling, explains what was going on in his life while writing it: “Balding (denial and acceptance), drinking, sexual frustration . . . exercise, antidepressants, nicotine . . . nicotine withdrawal, sweatpants.” “A lot of ratty sweatpants,” agrees Rachel Bertsche about her own book, Jennifer, Gwyneth, & Me.