Jonathan Franzen’s Kraus Project should be “a match made in heaven,” writes Jacob Mikanowski, because of how it pairs together “the old hater [Karl Kraus] and the new [Franzen], the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of cultural criticism drawn together across the gulf of a century to take on all comers.” Alas, the end result is instead a “strange and rather discordant experience, like receiving a deep tissue massage while being spat on from a great height.” (Bonus: One of the best London Review of Books openers of all time.)
Out this week: The Nix by Nathan Hill; Ashes of Fiery Weather by Kathleen Donohoe; The Legend of Jesse Smoke by Robert Bausch; and Sex and Death, a new story anthology including pieces by Kevin Barry, Wells Tower and Yiyun Li. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
Want to make your writing more dramatic? Try using a typewriter. Tom Hanks professes his love for typewriters in The New York Times. “Everything you type on a typewriter sounds grand, the words forming in mini-explosions of SHOOK SHOOK SHOOK. A thank-you note resonates with the same heft as a literary masterpiece,” he writes. Pair with: A St. Louis man placed typewriters around the city in hopes that residents will share their stories.
Tired of waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish his next Game of Thrones novel, a software engineer has developed a neural network to write the book instead (via The Digital Reader). Pair with this consideration of how the HBO series is going off-book and breaking all the rules.