Adam Mansbach’s “viral,” tongue-in-cheek kids’ book for adults, Go the F–k to Sleep is now out. We interviewed Mansbach years ago, pre-frenzy, about other matters. This week also offers up a pair of much anticipated novels for the literary set, The Astral by Kate Christensen (don’t miss Edan’s interview with Christensen today) and The Curfew by Jesse Ball, and a rather specialized tome for fans of literary history, Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms.
Out this week: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie; The Future Won’t Be Long by Jarett Kobek; How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas; The World Broke in Two by Bill Goldstein; A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton; Things That Happened Before the Earthquake by Chiara Barzini; and The Mountain by Paul Yoon. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“There is one rule [to writing biography] that all who try their hand at it come to know: until the protagonist reveals his or her character—his or her inner self—what the biographer produces is less a life than a report, an autopsy rather than the record of a séance.” David Levering Lewis writes for The American Scholar about biography and writing “the lives of African-American figures, and [finding] in them the story of our times.”
“This particular moonshot fell about a hundred-million books short of the moon.” Over at The Atlantic James Somers has the story of what went wrong with Google’s audacious plan to digitize all the world’s books. And like an interesting time capsule, you might want to read Robin Sloan in our own pages from some years back about a very, very cool book scanner.
Cool idea from Quarterly: a subscription service “that enables people to receive physical items in the mail from influential contributors of their choice.” I mean, who wouldn’t want some mail from Maud Newton, Jason Kottke, and Maria Popova (Brain Pickings)?
This fantastic essay from The Rumpus argues for the abandonment of realism in American fiction. Charles Finch wrote an essay for The Millions on the truce between realism and fabulism in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude that pairs quite nicely.