As John Steinbeck’s classic Travels With Charley nears the half-century mark, a writer has retraced the author’s cross-country journey and come to the conclusion that the resulting book was full of inaccuracies and outright fabrications. The journalist Bill Steigerwald, whose article appears in the current issue of the libertarian quarterly Reason, says he didn’t set out to trash the Nobel laureate. “As a libertarian, I kind of liked the old guy,” Steigerwald tells the New York Times. “He liked guns; he liked property rights.”
It’s not Christmas, but it’s close. It’s time for the Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex Award Shortlist to be released. This year’s finalists include My Education author Susan Choi and famous folk singer Woody Guthrie among others, and the winner(?) will be announced on December 3rd. (Bonus: Their Twitter account is sharing particularly awful excerpts as well.)
In The New York Times, Tatjana Soli gives high praise to Snow Hunters, the first novel by Once the Shore author and Best American Short Stories alumnus Paul Yoon. The novel, which tells the tale of a North Korean refugee named Yohan, proves that Yoon is “well-suited to the short form,” she writes. (Related: Soli has written for us.)
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukhergee, which was just shortlisted for the 2014 Booker Prize, will be released in the US at the beginning of October. If you just can’t wait another two weeks, an excerpt is now available online. For more about the 2014 Booker Prize, read our coverage of the longlist announcements here.
Nell Zink, whose second novel comes out next week, has one of the lit world’s more unusual origin stories. An expat in Germany, she wrote her first novel in three weeks, after striking up a friendship over email with Jonathan Franzen. In the latest New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz details her story in full. You could also read Emily Gould’s recommendation of her work for Year in Reading.
Last week, I pointed to former Millions-er Emily M. Keeler’s review of Wolf in White Van, the new novel by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. Now, at Slate, Carl Wilson offers his own praise of the book, which he describes as “not the kind of rallying cry or dark comfort that Mountain Goats fans are used to, but a complex meditation.”