A second issue of the Slate Book Review arrives, with essays by Dan Kois, Choire Sicha, Jen Szalai, Paul Ford, Troy Patterson, and Meghan O’Rourke.
Publishers of Poetry of the Taliban, a compilation that was released this month in the UK, are defending their book against charges of “giving voice to terrorists.” The book consisted of 235 poems previously published on the Taliban’s website, including war and love poems. “They would sing and recite poems every night after dinner,” former hostage and Reuters journalist David Rohde said of his captors’ relationship with poetry. “Privately they would sing love poems, but when their commanders were around, they would only sing war poems. It shows the tensions within the movement.”
Farjad Manjoo: “Nobody seems to understand what Jeff Bezos is doing. Does he?”
David Bowman, critic and author of novels such as Bunny Modern and a nonfiction book about the Talking Heads, recently died in Manhattan at the age of fifty-four. Bowman’s novels were a favorite among fellow writers for their bizarre plots and formal experimentation (Characters would frequently die, then reappear). As the NYT describes it, his 1992 debut, Let the Dog Drive is “a satirical blend of detective fiction and buddy-movie in which a hyperarticulate 18-year-old narrator hitchhikes across the United States and Mexico with a Detroit housewife who introduces him to Emily Dickinson, hallucinogenic cactuses, the pleasure of standing six inches from speeding trains, and her husband, a safety engineer who conducts crash tests on dogs.” Here’s Bowman on Steve Erickson in our Feb/March 2005 issue.
“I still haven't read Middlemarch—it's boring,” Salman Rushdie claimed at a PEN “Freedom to Write” lecture.
At the Awl, Jim Behrle has a conversation with his own novel-in-progress.