Writing a novel is an all-consuming project, so can you imagine not telling anyone? At The New York Times, Alice Mattison discusses keeping her novels secrets until at least the third draft. “If I talk about the book, I believe — I cannot help believing — my characters will be angry, and will no longer confide in me about their embarrassing, troubled lives.” On another side of the secrecy spectrum, Emma Straub writes about what it’s like to keep a personal secret even as her literary life was booming.
“These conversations push Leonard outside his sister’s house and put him on a course complete with time travel, an unreadable ancient text, Jewish Mysticism, and an attractive reference librarian. And here’s where the trouble starts.” On Rachel Cantor’s A Highly Unlikely Scenario.
“I thought it was going to be a short novel, that it was one person’s story. But I was wrong, because history is always shaping everything.” The New York Times reviews Marlon James‘s latest novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, which we covered in our “Great Second-Half 2014 Book Preview.”
“Through such experiments, [he] seems preoccupied by the need to make this familiar form something different from what we think it is, so that it can more capably capture a reality that has fast been veering into the unreal. It’s not just that the world outside the novel has made this jump, but also that we cannot evade the world’s strangeness when the storytellers, and the characters into which they breathe life, increasingly come from such different perspectives.” On Year in Reading alum Chang-rae Lee’s new novel (which you can buy with a nifty 3D book cover).
Researchers at Comanche Nation College and Texas Tech University are creating a digital archive to reconstruct the Comanche language before its 25 remaining speakers die out. Meanwhile, researchers from Moscow State University and the Russian Academy of Sciences have recorded audio and video footage of twenty isolated Alaskans who speak a unique form of the Russian language. (Bonus: An Australian researcher recently uncovered a whole new Aboriginal dialect.)