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.
The true confessions of Lev Grossman, book reviewer: “There was a time when I actually believed, because I was an ass, that as a critic I was an avenging angel with a flaming sword, and that part of my job was to help rid the culture of books that were sucking up more of the literary oxygen than they deserved.”
From Lev Grossman’s blog, “A Brief Taxonomy of Writers”: “As far as I can tell there are two kinds of fiction writers: those who read no fiction while they write, and those who constantly read fiction while they write. Let’s have cute names for them. We’ll call them Soloists and Thieves.”
“In one of his last columns, published in March 1966, Flann O’Brien looked back on his catechism, compiled more than twenty years earlier, and described it as ‘an exegetic survey of the English language in its extremity of logo-daedalate poliomyelitis, anaemic prostration and the paralysis of incoherence.’ One month after writing that, he was dead, and yet within a year a remarkable renaissance was taking place, with the long-delayed publication of his great comic fantasy The Third Policeman and, soon afterwards, the first of many anthologies of the ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ columns, this one entitled The Best of Myles.” (Related: our own Mark O’Connell on the humor in O’Brien’s work.)
After some initial mystery leading up to publication, Michael Lewis’s new book Flash Boys is here and its subject is high-speed trading (sometimes called “high-frequency trading) that uses supercomputers and complex trading algorithms to attempt to generate profits through brute force. Lewis has become the most popular writer on Wall Street, giving readers a look behind closed doors. The Times has an excerpt of Flash Boys, while Bloomberg has more detail.
How many Millions readers reside in Miami? All of you should come check out this USpeak event hosted by the University of Miami’s Creative Writing Program. Students will read verse and short stories, and visiting professor Patricia Engel (author of Vida) will read as well. You can also pick up a copy of Mangrove, the university’s undergraduate literary journal.
Over at the New Yorker, Akhil Sharma argues that “Anton Chekhov’s “Sakhalin Island“, his long investigation of prison conditions in Siberia, is the best work of journalism written in the nineteenth century.” Pair Sharma’s argument, and admiration, with our own Sonya Chung‘s “I Heart Checkov” essay.
“It is hard to see why anyone would abandon the generous Pearce Sectional Sofa, so we must assume that whomever was under that cozy throw was taken by force. More signs of abduction: reading glasses left atop a rare antique encyclopedia, a half-finished glass of wine, and a decorative conch shell that has tumbled to the floor, not to mention the wide-open French doors.” Pottery Barn catalogue descriptions written by an aspiring crime novelist.