A.S. Byatt’s new novel The Children’s Book has won a ton of praise overseas – it may take home the Booker tonight — and now it’s finally available in the States. Meanwhile, Michael Chabon is trying his hand at memoir with his new book, Manhood for Amateurs.
Mary Ruefle, author of the forthcoming Madness, Rack, and Honey, wrote a poetic essay on the subject of fear. It’s chock full of lines like this one about why she likes the word dread more than the word fear: “because fear, like the unconscious emotion which is one of its forms, has only the word ear inside of it, telling an animal to listen, while dread has the word read inside of it, telling us to read carefully and find the dead, who are also there.”
Who was it that came up with the idea that a million monkeys in front of a million typewriters would eventually, with their random keyboard smashing, type William Shakespeare’s complete works? Well, you can give the experiment a try here (link from the CC). And while you’re waiting for your monkeys to finish typing Love’s Labor’s Lost, check out some book excerpts I found:Heir to the Glimmering World by Cynthia Ozick — excerpt, NYT review, SF Chronicle reviewChain of Command by Seymour Hersh — excerpt, CS Monitor reviewThe Double by Jose Saramago — excerpt, NZ Herald reviewThe Fall Of Baghdad by Jon Lee Anderson — excerpt, WaPo review
“The morning after the opening sentence took shape, Heller “arrived at work”—at the Merrill Anderson Company—“with my pastry and container of coffee and a mind brimming with ideas, and immediately in longhand put down on a pad the first chapter of an intended novel.” The handwritten manuscript totaled about 20 pages. He titled it Catch-18. The year was 1953.” Happy Birthday Joseph Heller, author of the anti-war classic Catch-22, born this day in 1923 in Coney Island, New York.
Sick of feeling inadequate compared to your literary peers? Well, you might want to stop reading, then: turns out Adam Thirlwell published his first book when he was three. (The readers of Granta learn this not from Thirlwell, who seems a bit abashed, but instead from Year in Reading alumnus Jeffrey Eugenides.)
“Knausgaard‘s work is literary because of what it does, but not because of how it’s written. He gets us all asking…where does my truth really lie?” Recommended listening: James Wood, Meghan O’Rourke and Bill Pierce discuss Knausgaard in a podcast for Open Source.