New this week: Gary Shteyngart’s much buzzed about Super Sad True Love Story, Rick Moody’s The Four Fingers of Death (another literary dystopia), and a new Roberto Bolaño collection, The Return. Bonus for GN’R fans: GN’R drummer Steven Adler’s tell-all memoir My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, and Drugs, and Guns N’ Roses.
The Virginia Quarterly Review‘s Fall 2011 issue, “The Soviet Ghost“, is now available online. Not to be missed is Ed Ou’s heartbreaking essay and slideshow on how the Soviet government performed nuclear weapons tests on innocent Kazakh citizens. Dimiter Kenarov’s essay on Belarusian tractors is simultaneously a personal journey, an impressive work of history, and a good ol’ fashioned KGB crime story.
“Ageists who want to fault millennials for the continual decline in literary reading are wrong to do so. Across the board, there wasn’t much considerable variation in the amount literature age groups read. Everyone is hanging out in the 39–49% range.” Is America in the midst of a literary recession? According to the National Endowment for the Arts, 2015 marked the first year in 33 cycles of research that the percentage of adults who read literature had dropped below 45% to a dismal 43%.
Are books on the way to becoming luxury objects? At Salon, Daniel D’Addario makes a case that they are, explaining how a new aestheticism in book design points to a future in which books function mainly as art objects. (While we’re on the subject of book design, it’s a good time to look back on our U.S.-U.K. book cover battle.)
The CIA might just be America’s most literary government agency, no? Not only did they (maybe) help fund the early days of The Paris Review but, according to Eric Bennett, the group also funded the nation’s most prestigious and storied creative writing program. Over on Iowa Public Radio, you can hear some details.