Fear and self-loathing in Kafka: John Banville reviews three Franz Kafka biographies for the New York Review of Books and looks for keys that might unlock the secret to the writer's tortured self-depictions. He also recounts a reading in Prague when, in the middle of the early pages of The Trial, Kafka went all Jimmy Fallon and couldn't stop laughing. "That," writes Banville, "must have been quite an evening."
Make your plans for the Montana Festival of the Book. Seriously (schedule here). And, while you're deciding between Andrew Sean Greer and Claire Vaye Watkins (or, rather, going to see 'em both), join us for "Forty Years of Cutbank" on Saturday, October 12.
Against "Mailer" as a verb: At the New York Times, authors from Geoff Dyer and Sheila Heti to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Jackie Collins (of course) share their experiences reading and writing about sex. "You can mint new verbs," says Dyer. "One of Martin Amis’s characters speaks of having 'Mailered' a woman." We hope that means he didn't stab her.
David or Goliath? Malcolm Gladwell has a new book out, which means we have a new opportunity to debate the merits of Malcolm Gladwell's particular brand of storytelling and conclusion-building. Writing for The Telegraph, Gaby Wood notes that many of Gladwell's strongest statements are confined to footnotes. She also suggests an alternate title for the book: "Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other."
Sam Shepard doesn't want your e-mails: While browsing the author's site for info on the new documentary Shepard and Dark, we noticed a link that said "E-mail." Sensing an opportunity for contact, we clicked it and found Shepard's lovely e-mail disclaimer: "I don't have a computer. I don't have an Internet. I don't have the e-mail. I don't have any of that shit."