When our own Mark O’Connell reviewed Edouard Levé’s Autoportrait, he wrote that the book compels you to keep reading because “the more Levé says, the more facts he sets down, the more you realize he hasn’t said.” But what if at the end, you’re meant to reread the book, too? Over at Words Without Borders, Jan Steyn says “the only way to get a better idea of how [these sentences] fit together is to keep reading, and reading, until the end, and then perhaps to read the book again.”
We all probably had the humiliating experience of reciting a poem in high school. Yet at Salon, Nina Kang believes that memorizing poetry is a lost art. She blames the loss of the discipline on our tendency to skim and new poetry's seeming aversion to memorization. "Writers actively fight against the appearance of artifice, and often instead strive for an informal, offhand tone, with that hint of clumsiness that lends a certain authenticity to the voice. It turns out this is a quality that makes the reciter’s job that much more difficulty." Here's our take on the lost art of recitation.
“Literature can use secrecy as a device to ensnare readers, to pull the wool over their eyes or to reveal to them things that the characters can’t see. Whether large – businessman by day, serial killer by night; or small – where a character silently yearns for an ex-lover.” Eli Goldstone compiles a list for The Guardian of 10 novels whose characters are concealing big secrets, including a few lesser-knowns like Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle and New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani.
Out this week: Some Luck by Jane Smiley; Reunion by Hannah Pittard; The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue; Man V. Nature by Diane Cook; The Hilltop by Assaf Gavron; The Hundred Days by Joseph Roth; The Figures of Beauty by David MacFarlane; There Must Be Some Mistake by Frederick Barthelme; Citizen by Claudia Rankine; and Lila by Marilynne Robinson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
The Millions is thrilled to welcome a new staff writer, Ismail Muhammad, whose first piece for the site publishes today. (You may have seen Ismail's work at Zyzzyva and the Los Angeles Review of Books previously.) He splits his time between Los Angeles and Oakland, where he's currently working on a dissertation and a novel. Find him on Twitter @trapmotives and Instagram @trapmotifs.
A somewhat startling headline: "Amelia Lester, 26 Year Old Former Fact Checker, is the New Managing Editor of The New Yorker." Another interesting tidbit: The New Yorker has been exempt from meeting with the consultants who are currently scrutinizing the rest of Conde Nast's titles.
The recipients of the 2016 Kirkus Prize have been announced, among them the novel The Sport of Kings by C. E. Morgan and In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi, a meditation on her father's gender transition, in the non-fiction category. We reviewed two of the other fiction finalists this year: Carousel Court (here) and The Underground Railroad (here).