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Book News: Freud's Couch Succumbs To Despair, Ennui

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • According to a report in The Guardian, Sigmund Freud's famous couch has fallen into disrepair, and the Freud Museum in London has issued a plea for donations to finance the restorations. A gift from one of his patients, it went with him from Vienna to London when he fled the Nazis, and seated some of his most famous patients, such as the hysterical "Dora" and neurotic "Wolf Man." Freud supposedly told a friend that he used a couch because "I cannot let myself be stared at for eight hours daily."
  • In New York Magazine, critic Kathryn Schulz dares to be in the Great Gatsby-hating minority: "I find Gatsby aesthetically overrated, psychologically vacant, and morally complacent."
  • An article in a London tabloid claiming that Martin Amis hates "Brooklyn hipsters" has generated an odd amount of buzz, particularly given that so many people love to hate Brooklyn hipsters. What's next — Jonathan Franzen hates traffic and the flu?
  • For The New York Review of Books, Margaret Atwood advises on the use of dreams in fiction: "So let your characters dream if they must, but be advised that their dreams — unlike your own — will have a significance attached to them by the reader. Will your characters dream prophetically, foretelling the future? Will they dream inconsequentially, as in real life? Will they use accounts of their dreams to annoy or attack or enlighten the other characters? Many variants are possible. As in so many things, it's not whether, but how well."
  • The Cuban government and the Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation are collaborating to digitize and preserve papers and records from Ernest Hemingway's estate on the outskirts of Havana, which scholars in the United States have not previously had access to. Digital images of 2,000 papers will go to John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. According to The Associated Press, "The newly digitized files include letters from Hemingway to the actress Ingrid Bergman, letters to his wife Mary, passports documenting his travels and bar bills, grocery lists and notations of hurricane sightings."
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