“I can still remember with complete clarity the way I felt when whatever it was came fluttering down into my hands that day 30 years ago on the grass behind the outfield fence at Jingu Stadium; and I recall just as clearly the warmth of the wounded pigeon I picked up in those same hands that spring afternoon a year later, near Sendagaya Elementary School. I always call up those sensations whenever I think about what it means to write a novel.” Haruki Murakami on “The Moment [He] Became a Novelist,” excerpted on Lit Hub from the new double edition of his first novels, Wind/Pinball.
Canonical literature isn’t the only way to learn about America. The bestseller list can be equally as telling. Matthew Kahn is reading 100 years of No. 1 bestsellers from 1913 to 2013. He blogs about the books and discusses the project in an interview with Salon’s Laura Miller. When Miller asks what makes a bestseller, he claims, “A lot of it is just a matter of accessibility. A focus on plot and character rather than structure and the prose itself.”
Recommended Reading: This unsettling, important essay by Kira Jane Buxton at The Rumpus: “He starts to move with a slow hiss. This is his place, his world, and so when he walks he does it slowly, time in his pockets. He keeps his eyes on me, keeps me in my place in his world. I can’t hold the fear back for much longer, the bridle is snapping.”
Thriller writer James Patterson was set to publish a novel in November about an attempt on his author colleague Stephen King‘s life, subtly titled The Murder of Stephen King. Following reports of real-life threats against King, however, the book has been scuttled. After you’ve read that tale of high dudgeon, see also our editor-in-chief Lydia Kiesling’s essay, “Everything I Know About America I Learned from Stephen King.”