Our humongous second-half preview will keep you busy planning your to-read list for the rest of the year, but there are some intriguing new books out this week too. Bonnie Jo Campbell’s novel Once Upon a River is now out, as is Edie Meidav’s Lola, California. (Don’t miss the remarkable essay Meidav wrote for us recently.) Also new is the latest from Benjamin Black (John Banville’s pen name), A Death in Summer, and Flip Flop Fly Ball, a collection of light-hearted and very clever baseball infographics from Craig Robinson (whose work also appears on his blog).
George Perec‘s I Remember, a series of aphoristic memories modeled after Joe Brainard’s volume of the same name, are finally making their way into English translation. The Paris Review has an excerpt. “I remember that Stendhal liked spinach… I remember that one of the first decisions that de Gaulle took on coming to power was to abolish the belt worn with jackets in the military.”
Two great scoops were passed my way by the intrepid Brian, fresh from his European sojourn. The first is this so-wierd-it-has-to-be-true story about Newt Gingrich being an extremely prolific and friendly Amazon.com customer reviewer. Click here for the must-read gory details.While in Spain, Brian read Robert Hughes’ new book Barcelona: The Great Enchantress from the National Geographic Directions series and noticed on the back cover that Jon Lee Anderson, the New Yorker’s Baghdad correspondent extraordinaire, has a book for the series coming out. It will be about Andalucia. This will be a busy year for Anderson. In the fall, his fantastic Baghdad pieces will be collected in The Fall Of Baghdad and he will also release Guerrillas: Journeys in the Insurgent World, which ought to be quite good.
In order to prolong the conversation around his Atlantic cover story, “The Case for Reparations,” Ta-Nehisi Coates recently took to Twitter to engage in a Q&A session with his readers. You can scroll through the entire exchange over here. Coates was also interviewed by Ezra Klein for Vox this week, and the resulting video is probably the most valuable piece of content that site has produced since its inception.
Here is Amitav Ghosh in conversation with Michael Berkeley for the BBC Radio3 broadcast about his new novel, Flood of Fire. In the interview, Ghosh talks about his childhood by the water and the influence of the sea on his work. He also curates a playlist of influential music that ranges from Bengali boat songs to Phillip Glass to ‘Hindoo airs.’
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There’s that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine’s own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).