New this week is Sarah Vowell’s Unfamiliar Fishes (reviewed here) along with new story collections from E.L. Doctorow (All the Time in the World) and Jim Shepard (You Think That’s Bad). Also new this week is Kate Atkinson’s latest Jackson Brodie mystery Started Early, Took My Dog and Paul McEuen’s debut mixing “science and suspense” Spiral. Out in paperback is Millions Hall of Famer A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.
“An artist you love occupies a weird in-between place, where they’re somehow a little more than a father, but a little less than a neighbour. They can permanently re-organize your consciousness but they can’t sell you a Coke. You feel you know them more than anyone you actually know, which means that you don’t really know a damn thing. I feel I know Elliott Smith, but if I picture him in front of me, I find myself picturing a tiny figurine, or Mount Rushmore.” Sasha Chapin has written an intensely personal essay about Elliott Smith for Hazlitt. Here is The Millions’ own Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music column to satisfy any lingering musical urges.
Granta posts Salman Rushdie’s 1984 essay ‘Outside the Whale’ – a response to an essay by George Orwell about the political role of the artist: “If writers leave the business of making pictures of the world to politicians, it will be one of history’s great and most abject abdications.”
It’s a big week for new books. Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke is now out, as is Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy, Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge, and The Funny Man by John Warner, who recently appeared in these pages. Philip Roth’s American Trilogy is getting the Library of America treatment. (Capsule previews of all of the preceding titles are available here, incidentally). New in non-fiction is Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin. And out in paperback: none other than Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.