New this week are Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer by Wesley Stace (the pen name of singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding), and buzzed about debut The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale. On the nonfiction side is a new biography, Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall. And new in paperback is Millions Hall of Famer The Big Short by Michael Lewis.
In an effort to adjust more comfortably to the modern age, the Merriam-Webster company is revamping its iconic dictionary, the first to focus mainly on American English. At Slate, Stefan Fatsis considers the changes, which raise the question of what a modern dictionary should look like. Related: our own Bill Morris on the American Heritage Dictionary.
“In college, I didn’t realize I was the face of the Diaspora, the embodiment of all the women they thought I was, and who I knew I was. I was from Africa, east and west, a sojourner through the islands of the Caribbean, a daughter of the Second Great Migration of African-Americans from South to North. Perhaps Chaka said it best—to these young men, I was ‘every woman.’ To airport security, I was that woman. The one to be stopped and searched. The one who was suspect. A long-lost daughter whose lineage crossed through Kush—was I carrying Kush now, perhaps, in my hair?” If a ‘Pat-downs, Pissing, and Passport Stamps’ headline isn’t enough to get you to read this great piece from The Literary Hub, hopefully the quote will do.
Several recent novels — among them Dave Eggers’s The Circle and Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge –tackle the effects of social media on our world. The latest, Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen, may be the best of the bunch, writes Andrew Hulktrans. At Bookforum, he explains why Cohen’s depiction of an app-saturated world is unparalleled. You could also read Jonathan Frederick Post on Cohen’s novel Witz.
On the occasion of the publication of his novel The Madonnas of Echo Park, Brando Skyhorse writes about the decades-long path that got him there and the rules for writing that he devised. (Thanks, Steve)