It’s a big week for fans of literary fiction, with new books by a pair of heavyweights: Generosity by Richard Powers and Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. There’s also a new (and massive) collection of stories from Lydia Davis. Nick Horby’s newest, Juliet, Naked is out. Finally, Bukowski fans may be pleased to find a new book of never-before-collected poems, and R. Crumb fans have no doubt been waiting for his Book of Genesis to hit shelves.
Dan Piepenbring writes at The Paris Review on judging a book by its cover in the Weimar Republic and the sheer mastery of some of the early twentieth-century German cover designers. Two related pieces from The Millions: our own Bill Morris on the pleasures of the typewritten book cover and Matt Allard on reimagining some popular cover art.
It was shocking to find that New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid had died, of an asthma attack of all things, while reporting in Syria, especially when he’s put himself in harm’s way so many other times and emerged unscathed. Tyler Hicks, the Times photographer who was with Shadid when he died and who escorted his body out of Syria was, along with Shadid, among of the four journalists captured and held in Libya less than a year ago in the early days of the uprising there. Shadid’s reporting was brave and essential there and elsewhere. His death comes just weeks before the release of a memoir, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East.
Adding to a review by Pamela Erens for The Millions, Zoë Heller reads Janet Malcolm’s Forty One False Starts for the New York Review of Books. Among other things, she concludes that the writer’s job, at least in Malcolm’s estimation, is “to vanquish mess.” (You could also read a review in The Nation I wrote about a few weeks ago.)
“James Schiff, an associate professor of English at the University of Cincinnati, is working on a volume of Updike’s letters and has unearthed thousands of letters, postcards, and notes the author sent to complete strangers who wrote to him.” The Guardian writes about an in-progress book of John Updike‘s letters that reveals how often the writer corresponded with not only his contemporaries, like John Barth and Joyce Carol Oates, but his readers as well. See also: an essay about the personal and literary relationship between Barth and Updike.
This week, the Ransom Center at UT-Austin opened up its archives of the works of J.M. Coetzee. Because the Nobel Prize winner is an alumnus, he says it’s “a privilege to have graduated from being a teaching assistant at The University of Texas to being one of the authors whose papers are conserved here.” (Fun fact: his starting salary was $2,300 a year.)
What if the Tour de France nearly ground to a halt due to fiction? Imagine the best bikers in the world reading themselves into injury. At The Morning News, our own Matt Seidel imagines the chaos, making clear what happens when professional athletes meet page-turners. You could also read Matt’s essay on Tim Krabbé’s book The Rider.