If I consider Monday the beginning of the week, then I started this one off right, with the smoked meat sandwich pictured above from Mile End Deli. (Not pictured: poutine! Which luckily, I shared with two other people.) Presidents Day Weekend actually felt long for a long weekend. So long that I never really left weekend-mode and I am very ready for it to be the actual weekend again.
This week, I was pretty obsessed with the conversation surrounding Hilary Mantel’s recent lecture, republished here by the London Review of Books. (Her last two novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, are two of my favorite books I have read in the last several years, if not ever, so I’m KIND OF a huge fan girl.) The lecture is, of course, fascinating, not only for Mantel’s commentary on the way she and the rest of the sees – and objectifies – British royalty, but also for the way she places the current state of affairs within a larger historical context. The parallels she draws between Kate Middleton and Anne Boleyn are interesting to consider for a lot of reasons and I highly suggest reading this if you’re into British history or tabloid culture.
If you were following the press around this at all, you might have heard about how Mantel was lambasted by British publications, as well as Prime Minister David Cameron, for a few unsavory remarks she made during the lecture about Princess Catherine. The quotes used in the press were taken out of context, of course, and the ensuing madness only ended up proving her point about our – the public’s – personal relationship with royalty. I liked this piece on The New Yorker’s Page-Turner blog about “the pitfalls of the public lecture”, which was less of a stating-how-obviously-wrong the initial reaction to the lecture was and more of an excuse for Ian Crouch to talk about Pnin and Lucky Jim, two of the best books ever about academia. (Lucky Jim is another one of my favorite, favorite books. This has reminded me that I really badly need to reread it soon.)
Anyway, all of this has been good for Hilary Mantel, whose books are selling like hotcakes again.
Not actually doing as well as we though? Short stories! Laura Miller’s response on Salon to the New York Times’ assertion that short stories are back “in” because of George Saunders and Kindles is excellent in that it points out that the idea that people are not reading short fiction just because they have small screens on their e-readers and smart phones. And that a market for short fiction has never existed and probably won’t just because George Saunders is on the bestseller list. (Sidenote: Should I abandon my short story collection now? I have only written like one page, anyhow.)
I read this New York Times Magazine piece on the science behind the addictiveness of junk food over two days this week. It was really enlightening and I highly recommend it.
Also, I don’t know if any of you were fans of Carnivale, but I was super excited to see this two-part interview with series creator Daniel Knauf on The AV Club. I was completely obsessed with this show but never knew much about its genesis or plans for its future beyond a few details that were released around the second season (and series) finale. Here are both parts:
And finally, a look back at something else I was once (and still kind of am) really into. There was a short-ish documentary/verbal history about the making of Belle & Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister on Pitchfork this week. Watch it! I liked it a lot. (I have no idea if you’ll like it. There just wasn’t any way that I was going to hate it, so.)