At Slate, Rosecrans Baldwin notes “Pick up just about any novel and you’ll find a throwaway reference to a dog, barking in the distance.” Amazingly enough, he’s right.
“Magic I think for me is kind of personal. Like, as soon as magic is in play, then I am given permission to imagine a different world, one in which magic things might happen—one where maybe I get some magic to wield if I’m lucky. Where cool stuff might happen at any given moment, cool stuff you wouldn’t even guess at. And for as long as the story holds, I’m kind of living in that world.” John Darnielle talks with Colin Winette about E.R. Eddison‘s The Worm Ouroboros, reading high fantasy and writing Wolf in White Van.
New this week: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel; The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah; Youngblood by Matthew Gallagher; Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney; The Collected Novellas of Stefan Zweig; A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh; Don’t Lose Track by Jordannah Elizabeth; and The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee (who we interviewed this week). For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
Are you familiar with “Teach This Poem“? If not you should be. This organization just won the National Book Foundation’s 2018 Innovations in Reading Prize. Their literary social impact mission? Help teachers add poetry to their curriculum; “Each week, The Academy of American Poets emails out a poem along with interdisciplinary information — classroom discussion questions and multimedia offerings like maps, videos, photography, and related reading suggestions. Everything is curated to help teachers incorporate poetry into the classroom experience.” Find out more about the prize and the org here.
“‘I just want to be normal,’ she said, even though she had amazing powers and a super-family and was mega-gorgeous and better than normal in every way and the entire book would be terrible if she were normal and she had no conception of what normal was to begin with.” At The Toast, Mallory Ortberg lists flaws only a protagonist could have.
Caleb Crain has strong reservations about the New York Public Library’s proposed $350 million remodel, or, in his view, the library’s shift away from “its research mission.” To put his concerns bluntly, he asks, “What problem is the Central Library Plan (CLP) meant to solve?” He then vividly enumerates the problems with the proposal. For those of you wondering what can be accomplished with an essay, there’s this: Mr. Crain’s got him landed on one of the project’s advisory panels as a result.