“The Hanging Garden is a novel for our time—a story about parentless children, mistreated by a world that, by its lights, intends no harm but nonetheless does enduring damage. … David Marr, White’s biographer, and others dedicated to White’s memory, decided to give us The Hanging Garden. They were right to do so, and we should thank them for it.”—John Sutherland, The New York Times Book Review
Bookmarked: Pages Being Shared in the Picador Office
“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” James is watching David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water” commencement speech.
Shailyn is sharing New Inquiry’s piece on the history of Facebook’s “like.” But why “Like”? Why not “Love,” or “I agree,” or “This is awesome”?
Speaking as someone who emerged from high school without ever having read The Great Gatsby, Madeline got a kick out of these imagined alternate endings for the novel. The College Lit Mag Ending—too real.
Speaking of Gatsby, Angela found these tattoos.
Darin is reading Cathleen Schine’s new book Fin & Lady, coming soon from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. “Very fun! Very Auntie Mame.” Also, all this Gatsby hoopla is making him finally read Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vail, about Gerald and Sara Murphy hanging out with F. Scott Fitzgerald in the French Riviera.
Gabrielle suggests two podcasts this week. The first is Marc Maron on The Nerdist because, seriously, why wouldn’t you listen? The other is a smart discussion on the future of libraries in the digital age.
A nation of junkies went cold turkey, and PJ is reading up on how the Huxleyan developments that scientists have made trying to artificially curb drug addiction have just caused wholly new, sometimes even more pervasive problems.
Our new book by Anna Stothard, The Pink Hotel, reminds us that we have another book to add to our stellar Bad Mommies Mother’s Day collection. Issues with your mother got you down? Shopping for a Mother’s Day gift filling you with dread? Think you got it bad? Check out these moms and remember, yours is probably wonderful!
1. The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard: Our nameless narrator has just walked off with a suitcase of her mother’s belongings. Abandoned by Lily years ago, the narrator has come a long way to learn about her mom, and the stolen suitcase—stuffed with clothes, letters, and photographs—contains not only a history of her mother’s love life, but perhaps also the key to her own identity. As she tracks down her mother’s former husbands, boyfriends, and acquaintances, a risky reenactment of her life begins to unfold.
2. Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman: When Hassman gives us this line: “My name is Rory Dawn Hendrix, feebleminded daughter of a feebleminded daughter, herself the product of feebleminded stock,” only five pages into the book, it’s a subtle clue that this will not be a tale of a heartwarming mother-daughter relationship. Calling Rory Dawn’s mother absent would be a kind way to put it, as her alcoholism takes control of both her own life and Rory’s.
3. The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn: The best thing that you can say about the mother in St. Aubyn’s series is that at least she isn’t as bad as the father.
4. Every Day is Mother’s Day by Hilary Mantel: We’ll assume you’ve read Wolf Hall and that Bring Up The Bodies is currently on your nightstand but for something completely different from one of your favorite writers, may we suggest Mantel’s first novel, a dark domestic comedy about a half-wit daughter barricaded with her mother in their once-respectable home. Described as “Stephen King meets Muriel Spark,” this book is a great read, though it may be a demonstration of the worst mother/daughter relationship imaginable.
5. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen: This National Book Award Winner is a darkly comic study of a “typical” American family. Matriarch Enid watches her family fall apart: her husband is losing his sanity to Parkinson’s; her eldest son is crushed by clinical depression; her daughter has destroyed her marriage; and her youngest son has lost his seemingly secure job and moved to Eastern Europe. Desperate for a sliver of joy, Enid sets out to bring the family together for Christmas, a seemingly futile endeavor. Hopefully your mom has slightly less dysfunctional family holidays to look forward to.
6. Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs: At a young age, Burroughs was given over by his mother to be raised by her unorthodox therapist, resulting in a less-than-normal childhood. In a home where the friendly neighborhood pedophile lived in a shed behind the house and electroshock therapy was a gripping form of entertainment, this book might be appropriate for Mother’s Day accompanied with a note reading, “Thank you for not doing this to me.”
7. Smut by Alan Bennett: While the mother in Bennett’s second novella, The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes, may not be quite on the level of some of Picador’s other Bad Moms, it cannot be denied that her relationship with son Graham is not ideal. We don’t want to give too much away, but we’ll just say that it’s never a good thing when you and your mother have the same love interest.
“If Jay Gatsby lived a few decades later, he’d be smack in the middle of Wolfe’s New York City, dingy, corrupt and savage, mad for status, mad for women, mad for money. Think of this as a crystal ball for seeing the future, Gatz — it may help.”
Bookmarked: Pages Being Shared in the Picador Office
Daniel is reading through Wired’s 20th anniversary issue and listening to William Basinski’s sound cloud.
Elizabeth’s food for thought: Henry Hargreaves’s photographs of death row’s final meals.
PJ is reading a tale of a major, disastrous, but crazy and kind of funny German hoax involving Hitler’s diaries.
Sometimes it seems as if you can’t take ten steps without hearing someone mention algorithms. Gabrielle found this interesting article that explores their history and offers an analysis of how we use them today:
The first algorithm was created in the ninth century by the Arabic scholar Al Khwarizami—from whose name the word is a corruption. Ever since, they have been mechanistic, rational procedures that interact with mechanistic, rational systems. Today, though, they are beginning to interact with humans. The advantage is obvious. Drawing in more data than any human ever could, they spot correlations that no human would. The drawbacks are only slowly becoming apparent.
THE PICADOR BOOK ROOM is a group publishing blog maintained by the employees of Picador Books. Any views expressed in these posts are those of the authors listed below.