This week, New Directions offers up a collection that may offer some context to the Roberto Bolaño oeuvre. As the catalog copy suggests, “Between Parentheses collects most of the newspaper columns and articles Bolaño wrote during the last five years of his life, as well as the texts of some of his speeches and talks and a few scattered prologues.” Also out: Library of America does Kurt Vonnegut with Novels & Stories, 1963-1973; The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, a political tome by playwright David Mamet; and Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman, the scientist and polymath who was recently profiled in the New Yorker.
The Times is reporting that bestselling author Tom Clancy has died. The Baltimore native, who became famous for writing novels (including The Hunt for Red October and The Sum of All Fears) that inspired blockbuster movies, passed away last night in Johns Hopkins Hospital at the age of 66. (His next book, Command Authority, is planned for publication on December 3.)
Alexander Chee has a stunning new story in Guernica. He writes, “I wanted to eat and so I learned to sing…It took more than a witch to make a singer out of me.” Pair with Claire Cameron’s Millions interview with the author about his new novel, The Queen of the Night.
The CIA might just be America’s most literary government agency, no? Not only did they (maybe) help fund the early days of The Paris Review but, according to Eric Bennett, the group also funded the nation’s most prestigious and storied creative writing program. Over on Iowa Public Radio, you can hear some details.
Jaden Smith is going from an action movie career to starring in an adaptation of James McBride’s National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. Liev Schreiber will play John Brown. If you’re unsure about casting a rapper to play the protagonist, take it up with McBride, who is also producing the film.
It’s two weeks past Mardi Gras, so you’re probably ready to revisit New Orleans by now. Good timing. Narrative.ly has a week’s worth of stories on the Big Easy, entitled “Beyond Bourbon Street.” (Related: I recommend reading Tulane’s Richard Campanella’s recent piece for Design Observer: “Hating Bourbon Street.”)
“Trusting the literary press and the mechanisms of the market to curate the books we read and study is to hand over whole regions of literary curiosity and judgment before one even picks up a book.” On refusing to read. We’re not prepared to go quite that far, instead preferring our own Sonya Chung‘s practice of not finishing books.