With the preliminaries out of the way, The Morning News Tournament of books unveils its first head-to-head matchup today, Teddy Wayne’s Kapitoil versus Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. Don’t miss the commentary that accompanies each judgment (some say it’s the best part of the whole thing.)
As the 20th century wore on, the Strugatsky brothers grew pessimistic about Soviet Communism, eventually turning their fictional worlds from socialist utopias to dystopias. Their most famous early novel, Noon: 22nd Century bears little resemblance to later works like Hard to Be a God, which implicitly criticizes the Soviet government. At The Paris Review Daily, Ezra Glinter charts their evolution.
Members of the Word Reference forum contemplate the etymology and meaning of the “A” in the expression, “Fuckin’ A.” Elsewhere Geoffrey Nunberg, linguist and author of Assholism: The First Sixty Years, shares his take on the ubiquitous “a-word,” which he believes originated during World War II.
How does Karl Ove Knausgaard delve into some of the oldest parts of his memory for his writing? “I remember every single room that I have been in from the age of seven. What I did was to place myself in those rooms, and when I started to write about them it was like unlocking a thousand small doors, all leading further into childhood,” he told Cressida Leyshon at The New Yorker. Knausgaard also has a story, “Come Together” (behind the paywall), in the current issue. Pair with: Our essay on My Struggle.
Following up their publication of Charles Portis’s “Motel Life, Lower Reaches” online, the Oxford American brings us a speech in verse by Jay Jennings, the editor of a recent compilation of Portis’s work (which our own Bill Morris reviewed). Jennings delivered an ode to Portis to mark the author winning the Porter Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. Sample quote: “But you read the next book because the main character was from Little Rock,/and you knew no other book where the main character was from Little Rock/and you wanted to write a book about Little Rock.”
“In 2007, five out of the 10 best selling novels in Japan were originally mobile phone novels,” reports Olivia Solon. (In 2008, we published a translated excerpt of one.) Now Movellas has emerged as a new platform for Keitai Shousetu, or literature designed for mobile devices.