Quips on our radar
Kwame Alexander photographed by Portia Wiggins
“She eats it out of a bag. She eats it at night. She makes sandwiches with it....Will she eat all 1,079 pages of the beloved postmodern saga of addiction, tennis, pop culture, and lust? You can follow her progress via the hashtag #eatinfinitejest...” —Clayton Purdum reports at the A.V. Club on comedian Jamie Loftus’ goal to slowly eat the entirety of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest
“Good things will happen. Like sometimes you’ll spend ...
Beatles fans know the date as holy writ: July 6, 1957, when Paul McCartney met John Lennon for the very first time and showed him how to tune his guitar. A couple of weeks later, McCartney joined Lennon’s band—and the rest is history.
That band wasn’t playing rock ’n’ roll as such. Instead, the Quarrymen were playing a style of music called skiffle, mixing elements of American country and western, jazz, and blues with pub singalongs to create a sound ...
Vicky Smith and Alex Trebek courtesy of Jeopardy! Productions, Inc.
Like many a trivia-accumulating American, I have been an on-again, off-again fan of Jeopardy! for years. I sit on my couch and shout answers at the TV, groaning when a contestant muffs a question: "Harriet Tubman was from Maryland! How can you not know that?" So when I saw an announcement for an online test to screen potential contestants, I thought, Why not?
An online test, an in-person audition, and several months later, I had a taping date in Culver ...
Photo courtesy Erin English
The inspiration for Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner Karen English’s latest middle grade novel all comes down to one unforgettable quote.
“We had a housekeeper,” says English, who was born in 1954 and grew up in Los Angeles, “and she pulled me aside one day, when I was about nine, and told me that, if I ever went to Africa, the Africans would kill me, because they didn’t like, in her words, ‘no light-skinned negroes.’
“I didn’t ...
Some of this month’s excellent nonfiction
Heading into the heart of summer in Charleston, South Carolina, where I live, sometimes it’s too hot for anything except hunkering down in the air conditioning with a good book. Here are seven to check out this July, with quotes from our reviews.
The Unwomanly Face of War
by Svetlana Alexievich
“The Nobel laureate writes about ‘the wrong kind of war’: oral confessions from Russian women intimately involved with fighting for the motherland….Essential reading full of remarkable emotional wealth ...
Photo courtesy Ryane Rice
Gin Phillips had no intention of writing summer’s most scintillating literary thriller.
“I wanted to write a book about motherhood,” Phillips says of Fierce Kingdom, the story of a mother and four-year-old son trapped in their local zoo by an active shooter event.
“I was aware it was a faster plot than I normally focus on,” she says, “and I loved the idea of having to tell a story within such tight confines, where there’s literally geographic walls ...
We talk to Jan Weissmiller, co-owner of Prairie Lights
Iowa City’s Prairie Lights started small in 1978 and shelved the then-newer voices of Alice Munro and Raymond Carver alongside heavy hitters like Eudora Welty and George Orwell. The general bookstore expanded to three and a half floors (the half is home to Prairie Lights’ cafe) and hosts a celebrated reading series broadcast live on WSUI and WOI. We spoke with poet and co-owner Jan Weissmiller about life at the legendary indie.
How would you describe Prairie Lights ...
A political analyst with ABC news, the co-author of 2006’s Applebee’s America, and the former chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign, Matthew Dowd has spent the last seven years ruminating on the current state of the country. Through his columns and TV appearances he sharpened his observations about leadership and what is lacking in that leadership, but it took a very public break with the president, a series of personal tragedies, and a pilgrimage around the world to ...