Today in books: Google honors Jorge Luis Borges in intricate, complex fashion, NASA opens its doors to science-fiction writers, and a case is made for revisiting Walker Percy's 1961 novel The Moviegoer.
- On what would have been his 112th birthday, Google is honoring Argentinian author and theorist Jorge Luis Borges with a Google Doodle. The design looks like a particularly cluttered room at Bruce Wayne's mansion in the not-too-distant future, which is Borges in a nutshell. Look closer, says the Christian Science Monitor, and you'll see specific images from his 1941 short story "The Garden of Forking Paths," along with a bookshelf that could have come from the infinite library Borges described in "The Library of Babel." Feel free to point out all the nods and references that went over our heads in the comments section.
- According to Page Six, Vanity Fair culture critic James Wolcott's upcoming memoir Lucking Out will detail the "sexual excitation" Bob Dylan caused when he dropped in on a Patti Smith show in 1975, the glory days of Bowery music club CBGB, and the not-that-surprising news that "more than opinions were routinely passed around" when Wolcott would get together with his fellow disciples of New Yorker movie critic Pauline Kael. In a post to his Vanity Fair blog today about the item, it was hard to tell if Wolcott was tipping his hat for the pre-release plug or poking fun at what Page Six elected to highlight. "I only hope," said Wolcott, "that readers picking up the book hoping for salacious “dish” won’t be disappointed by the lyrical prose, which some*** have compared to a weeping willow in the misting rain. ...***although no one as yet." The book is due out in October. [Page Six and Vanity Fair]
- NASA is teaming up with writers for the science-fiction imprint Tor to produce a series of "science based fiction" novels, according to a joint press release. The unnamed authors will spend two days in November at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, where they'll be given access to NASA's "data, facilities, and educational design and evaluation experts." The stated aim of the project is "attracting and retaining students" who are interested in math and the sciences. Or at least teach them the most realistic way to blow up an alien at zero gravity. [Los Angeles Times]
- Lost in the hubub over the 50th anniversary of Joseph Heller's Catch-22 this year is Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, which beat out Catch-22 for the National Book Award in 1962. The Millions has a long, thoughtful, and academic (but not overwhelmingly so) essay about how the book's virtues stand up against Heller's novel, and the extent to which Percy's Catholicism shapes the text. More than anything, it makes us want to stop off and buy a copy on the way home from work tonight. [The Millions]