Stephen King’s latest, Under the Dome, is out today. It’s 1,100 pages and is being compared to The Stand. Meanwhile, Generation A by Douglas Coupland is also hitting shelves. It’s a sequel to Coupland’s famous, influential debut, Generation X. Also out last week was Jonathan Safran Foer’s treatise on vegetarianism, Eating Animals, which picked up a mixed review in the New Yorker.
Recently, both Batgirl and the Norse god Thor (as conceived by Marvel) have been updated to suit the times. While DC Comics simply gave Batgirl sensible, combat-appropriate clothing, inspiring happy fan art; “female Thor” has met a mix of excitement and bewilderment. Fittingly, a new piece out at Aeon explores our conflicted desire to see male protagonists in fiction — the Harry Potters and Bilbo Baggins’ of the world — reimagined as women. (Also, because no roundup of imaginary characters is complete without fake social media updates, here’s Thor lamenting the loss of his hammer on Facebook.)
As literary genres go, bathroom graffiti ranks somewhere between obscenities carved into desks and poorly spelled comments in terms of respectability. Yet it’s still a form that could reveal interesting things, which is why a group of researchers took a series of fact-finding trips to public stalls across America. Their takeaway? “The mere fact of being in a public bathroom could be skewing how people choose to present themselves when they uncap that Sharpie.” Related: Buzz Poole on The History of American Graffiti.
The international popularity and utility of English doesn’t show any signs of slowing, but what will the language look like after a few generations of increasing usage? The Economist gives a brief answer, but it doesn’t address the ways English is or will be used by different people to tell their stories. Damian Fowler addresses this when he asks, “[W]hat does it mean to have an American point of view,” or to call a book American in tone, as opposed to British or just English-language? In a blog post for The Paris Review, Fowler offers an answer: American novels are characterized by “a spare, sure sense of narrative, reflected in a colloquial voice, free of affectation.”
Friend of The Millions, proprietor of Pinky’s Paperhaus, and all around great gal Carolyn Kellogg has landed at the LA Times book blog Jacket Copy. We have little doubt that she’ll do great things there.Following Heath Ledger’s untimely death, BBC looks at the myriad ways in which Hollywood has dealt with losing an actor mid-production, dating back to 1937 “when Jean Harlow died, aged 26, during the making of Saratoga. With filming 90% complete, a lookalike and two Harlow sound-a-likes (voice doubles) took up where the star left off.”Bookride is back with an intriguing look at the collectors’ market for Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude. Don’t miss this tidbit: “By the way sending books to authors for signing is something of a gamble – Thomas Hardy used to keep all the books sent to him neatly shelved in a spare room.”Speaking of Garcia Marquez, Edith Grossman, the translator who has shaped the Latin American canon for English speakers over the last few decades, is profiled in bookforum.The New Republic offers the story behind the controversial New York Times John McCain/lobbyist story.The Morning News returns with its third annual Tournament of Books. Sadly, there will be no Bloggers’ Pool this year (despite our being eager to participate again), but Coudal Partners is sponsoring a betting pool for charity this year. As of this writing, On Chesil Beach and Run have had the most money thrown their way.A cartoon drawn on the pages of Moby DickAnd finally, McSweeney’s offers up some sweet Ashton Kutcher fan fiction.
For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.