A Zadie Smith-approved photo of London
As the publishing world reels from the fact that J.K. Rowling published a book under a male pseudonym, Flavorwire’s Jason Diamond reminds us that Don DeLillo also did a little gender-bending with Amazons, a book about hockey he wrote under the name Cleo Birdwell. (For more on that, read Gerald Howard's Bookforum piece on the novel).
Rolling Stone courted controversy this week by publishing an issue with Boston Marathon bomber Dzhohkar Tsarnaev on the cover looking rumpled and Jim Morrison-esque. The cover was immediately denounced by the media—and by CVS, which has refused to stock this issue—but some, like media commentator Dan Kennedy, have complicated thoughts on the issue. Kennedy points out that “similarly angelic portraits of Tsarnaev have appeared in just about every publication you can think of,” and adds that, "purely as a magazine cover, it was kind of brilliant." He does, however, worry that the cover could “draw attention to him in a way that may make an impression on other alienated people who could be inspired to follow his example.”
A new study of children’s books published between 1900 and 2000 has found that the genre has made little progress on getting past antiquated gender stereotypes. Surveying three hundred books, researchers found that regardless of the date of publication, “mothers in the books were more likely than fathers to perform almost every nurturing behavior, including verbal and physical expressions of love, encouraging, praising and listening.” Meanwhile, fathers were “much more likely than mothers to participate in both physical and non-physical play.”
Not long ago, Zadie Smith and the Guardian teamed up to solicit photos that best captured London. Now, they’ve chosen a winner: a nondescript shot of a street, with three chairs lined up against a white wall and graffiti that reads, “From ya mum.” And why did Smith pick it? "Firstly, it’s nicely composed, it has beauty. Urban areas are beautiful—it’s not all putrid canals and ethnic tension."
At the New Yorker, James Wood considers a clutch of new books by the children of William Styron, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, and John Cheever, and wonders whether great novelists are predisposed to be bad parents.
This is what a page of Finnegans Wake looks like with spellcheck on.