Lots of new books out this week: Where Mortals Sleep, previously unpublished short fiction by Kurt Vonnegut, with a foreword by Dave Eggers; A Life, one of what will be several biographies of J.D. Salinger arriving over the next couple of years; Stanley Fish tells us How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One; Brian Greene introduced the masses to string theory with The Elegant Universe, and now he’s back with The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos; Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge is out in paperback; and finally, from Penguin Classics, The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime: Forgotten Cops and Private Eyes from the Time of Sherlock Holmes.
You'll have to read this Curiosity to believe it! The surprise bestselling Time-Life series was wildly popular in the late 80s–but why? The answer is a bit less mysterious than one might have hoped. As a consolation, here’s a related essay from The Millions on conspiracy literature.
At The Awl, James S. Murphy goes in-depth on the Stony Brook study, which I wrote about last week, that identified characteristics of historically successful books. In making a point about the publishing industry, he references the sale of our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s debut novel.
"In Saigon I always went to sleep stoned so I always lost my dreams, probably just as well, sock in deep and dim under that information and get whatever rest you could, wake up tapped of all images but the one remembered from the day before, with only the taste of a bad dream in your mouth like you’d been chewing on a roll of dirty old pennies in your sleep." The 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time series over at The Guardian soldiers on with its ninth pick, Michael Herr's Dispatches.
We're pleased to announce a new feature here on The Millions, "Ask the Writing Teacher." Our own Edan Lepucki will now be taking your questions about all things writing related, dialogue, plot, point of view, or other elements of writing that might be putting a pickle in your prose. Send your questions her way at askthewritingteacher[at]gmail[dot]com
Next Saturday I will be competing (fiercely, one hopes) in Scrabble For Cheaters, a charity tournament to benefit 826CHI, Chicago's chapter of the national creative writing organization (founded by Dave Eggers) that provides free tutoring, field trips, writing workshops and the like to over 4,000 Chicago students a year. To support their work, and augment my ability to cheat during the tournament, click here and scroll down to my team - The Dillon Panthers. Thanks!