Carefully Selected by Your Crack Staff of News Sleuths
Column Editor: Bruce Strauch (The Citadel, Emeritus)
Against the Grain v34#1
Women Writers of WWII
(1) Martha Gellhorn, The Face of War (1959) (Hemingway’s third wife covered both Spain and WWII in Europe and later Vietnam); (2) Virginia Cowles, Looking for Trouble (1941) (early days of the war — Finland and the fall of Paris); (3) Iris Carpenter, No Woman’s World (1946) (one of the few accredited to the front lines); (4) Anthony Penrose, Ed., Lee Miller’s War: Beyond D-Day (2014) (Condé Nast model, muse and mistress of Man Ray, NY celebrity photog who went to war); (5) Elizabeth Bowen, The Heat of the Day (1948) (novel of London in the Blitz where Elizabeth was an air raid warden).
See: Judith Mackrell, “Five Best,” The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 18-19,2021, p.C8.
Obit of Note
Jason Epstein (1928-2022) was a 25-year-old trainee at Doubleday when he suggested selling highbrow literary fiction in paperback. It had only done pulps before. His imprint Anchor Books took off.
He was editorial director at Random House for decades editing Philip Roth, Gore Vidal, W.H. Auden, and Norman Mailer. In 1963, he was the driving force behind launching the New York Review of Books, and in the ’70s, he helped create the Library of America.
He called his life in the book trade “sheer luck.”
See: “The publishing pioneer who elevated paperbacks,” The Week, Feb. 18, 2022, p.35.
Quit Our Day Jobs?
Forbes lists the highest YouTube plutocrats with MrBeast coming in tops at $54 million last year. His income had jumped from a mere $24 million the previous year. He is a former Boy Scout who specializes in elaborate stunts like being buried alive for 50 hours and paying a volunteer $10,000 to sit in a bathtub filled with snakes.
And the list runs down to No. 5 at $28.5 million. It’s somebody playing Minecraft.
We went to college, why exactly?
See: “Numbers of the Beast,” Forbes, Feb/March, 2022, p.23.
Let’s Thoroughly Read the Mitfords
Harold Acton, Nancy Mitford (1975) (famous aesthete, contemporary with Nancy M); (2) Jessica Mitford, Hons and Rebels (1960) (Jessica relates their childhood; became a communist and investigative journalist); (3) Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love (1945) (the most famous sister through her marvelous novels); (4) David Pryce-Jones, Unity Mitford; A Quest (1976) (the Nazi who adored Hitler); (5) Deborah Mitford, Wait for Me! Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister (2010) (wrote a dozen books herself).
See: Rachel Johnson, “Five Best,” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 22-23, 2022, p.C8. Rachel is the author of “Rake’s Progress: The Madcap True Tale of My Political Midlife Crisis.”
Yes, I’d Call That Indefatigable
Danielle Steel has written 190 best sellers, been married five times, and had nine children. When on a roll she can write for 22 hours a day. She’s sold 900 million copies and often doesn’t remember the plot after she’s finished a book. Has to call her agent to be briefed for interviews.
She gave up caffeine years ago and starts each day with a virgin mojito and a piece of toast. She admits to smoking and says this gets you aggressively insulted in California.
See: Lane Florsheim, “Danielle Steel,” WSJ Magazine, Spring Fashion Issue, p.105.
Let’s Read Dog Stories
Willie Morris, My Dog Skip (1995) (Willie Morris defines his youth through his dog); (2) Jack London, Call of the Wild (1903) (check out the great Youtube documentary on London’s life); (3) Fred Gipson, Savage Sam (1962) (sequel to the classic Old Yeller); (4) Dean Koontz, Watchers (1987) (monster, assassin, woman stalked by cretin, depressed ex-soldier … oh, and a dog); (5) Ed Martha White, E.B. White on Dogs (2013) (life of dogs in NYC).
See: Rick Bragg, “Five Best,” The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 11-12, 2022, p.C8. Rick’s most recent work is “The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His People.”
Banishing Amenity Warfare and Slave Adjuncts in Higher Ed
Pano Kanelos was expected to take over the family diner, but he went to Northwestern instead. He earned a Ph.D. in literature and taught at prestigious colleges. As president of St. John’s, he cut tuition from $52,000 to $35,000. He decries runaway spending on administrators and student sushi bars.
Now he is president of the new University of Austin in Texas (UATX). His chief financial backer is Joe Lonsdale, founder of Palantir Technologies. A large motivation is to escape the radical campus group-think that has 6 in 10 students saying they’re afraid to express their beliefs. But he insists it is not an anti-woke university.
Cost-containment is a primary goal with no administrators in offices on campus. But he will not exploit adjuncts the way most colleges do to cut corners. Says you can’t be an independent-minded professor if you’re working for peanuts on semester-to-semester contracts.
See: Emily Borrow, “Weekend Confidential,” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 29-30, 2021, p.C6.