The literary it-boys Katie Roiphe described last week in her provocative New York Times essay may say a polite “no, thank you” to sex, but not Legends of the Fall author Jim Harrison. No, sir. His lusty men of all shapes and sizes (octogenarians, clubfooted teens) take second helpings with gusto in his new collection The Farmer’s Daughter.
“Each imaginary book is a demonstration of fiction’s magic, as an author deposits into a fictional world yet another fictional world, like one universe bubbling out of another.” On Borges and other authors’ fictional texts and his library of imaginary books. Jeff Peer introduces us to Borges as a professor in his review of Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature.
There are plenty of new books to this week to fill that post-election void: Both Flesh and Not: Essays, a posthumously published collection from David Foster Wallace; Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior; Prosperous Friends by Christine Schutt; Magnificence by Lydia Millet; and These Things Happen, a debut by longtime TV writer Richard Kramer. From the indies, we have The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets by Diana Wagman and Keyhole Factory by William Gillespie. Also out are Philip Pullman’s new version of Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm; Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks; and a big new Michael Jackson biography by a former Rolling Stone editor.
“[C]hildren often prefer the factual over the fantastical. And a growing body of work suggests that when it comes to storybooks, they also learn better from stories that are realistic. For example, preschool-aged children are more likely to learn new facts about animals when the animals are portrayed realistically as opposed to anthropomorphically.” Two new studies suggest that where learning is concerned, realism trumps fantasy in children’s books. Which is as good a time as any to ask our own Jacob Lambert‘s question: Are picture books leading our children astray?