Already on shelves ahead of its “official” release date is Mark Twain’s long embargoed Autobiography. Also new this week are The Petting Zoo, a posthumously published novel by punk poet Jim Carroll; a new collection of Selected Stories from master of the form William Trevor; Cynthia Ozick’s “retelling” of of Henry James’ The Ambassadors, Foreign Bodies; and, in time for election day today, Matt Taibbi’s collection of biting political journalism, Griftopia.
Is it possible you have a binge reading disorder? It might seem ridiculous, but there’s mounting evidence that the Internet, which allows us to read far more than we ever have, is creating a world in which we constantly read but retain very little. Nikkitha Bakshani takes a look at the evidence for The Morning News.
God’s terse first line in the Book of Genesis — “Let there be light” — was ready-made for the Twitter generation. If only the rest was as crisp, the British novelist Jeanette Winterson recalled thinking, as she began to reckon with that first book for a new theatrical project on the King James Bible. And then it hit her: Maybe God’s wisdom would crackle for a modern audience as Twitter posts of 140 words or less.
Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; “The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to ‘fully narrate her own autobiography,’ as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world.” In the New Yorker
Olsson’s, a small chain that was an old standby among Washington D.C. independent bookstores, is likely to file for bankruptcy. It was the stores’ ample music sections and gentrification that contributed most to its downfall. “‘The book business is getting a little soft. It’s not selling as much as it used to,’ Olsson said. ‘Our music sales went from 50 percent of our business to maybe 15. We lost a lot of revenue, and at the same time rents went up and real estate taxes went up. I don’t know what we would have done differently. It’s a killer.'”The linguistic capabilities of modern world leaders. Well done, Pope, well done.For those whose fantasies involve real estate: Private Islands for SaleAnd a pair of audio items:Nam Le’s The Boat is getting rave reviews. Here he visits The Leonard Lopate Show.Garth covered the PEN World Voices Tribute to Robert Walser. Interested readers can now listen to the entire event.
Recommended Reading: Kayla Williams‘s overview of books about war written by women veterans. “Works have been published by women veterans from all four branches of service, officers and enlisted, active duty and reservists, and from multiple ethnic backgrounds. Their diverse voices can significantly deepen our understanding of both who volunteers to serve in today’s military and what they experience.”
“Yes, they believed I was a dangerous person, unpredictable, and I observed that I really scared them. Sometimes I noted that the guards looked at me as judges. Their look translated to me as ‘gorilla, stay in your cage!’ When soldiers were off-duty, they came to gawk at me with a sense of wonder. Sometime they would throw me a piece of meat or something sweet, just like to an animal. The old EZ: an exciting and fascinating sight.” Ezra Pound reflects on his time in an Italian prison.
Flavorwire has compiled a list of the best literary criticism of the year, ranging from Rebecca Solnit on Lolita to Elena Ferrante on literary publicity. Also check out this year’s most notable Millions pieces, from our star-studded Year in Reading to a literary reader for Lent.
“A collection of previously unpublished short stories and poems from Capote’s youth” have recently been rediscovered and will soon be available in print for the first time, reports The New York Times. Unfortunately the first published pieces will only be available in German translations until a full English collection is released in 2015, and we have a feeling Google Translate isn’t a good option for getting a readable version early.