Out this week: Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams; Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan; Pond by Claire Louise-Bennett; Break in Case of Emergency by Jessica Winter; The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock; Miss Jane by Brad Watson; The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon; and The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
“Reading the Grateful Dead is not a history of the band; it is a study of the landscape they and their fans created, as surveyed from a caravan that crisscrossed the country, Europe, and even Egypt for roughly 2,300 shows over 30 years.” Dead Head Buzz Poole takes a look at “Grateful Dead studies.” (The song that turned him, it turns out, was ‘Scarlet Begonias.’)
In the new Granta, Adam Johnson writes about the mind-bending experience of traveling to North Korea, an experience which informed his Pulitzer-winning novel The Orphan Master’s Son. Perhaps the saddest anecdote — and there are a lot of sad anecdotes — is the one about the North Korean tour guide who couldn’t believe the author didn’t want to buy knockoff goods.
Girls creator Lena Dunham’s first book is on shelves, as is the new short story collection by Man Booker laureate and recent Millions interviewee Hilary Mantel. Also out: On Immunity by Eula Biss; A Sudden Light by Garth Stein; Consumed by the filmmaker David Cronenberg; The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan; and The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis. For more on these and other titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Ever since the advent of modern neuroscience, the language of the brain scientist has entered our common vocabulary. Words and phrases like “synapse,” “chemical imbalance” and “hardwired” point to its relevance in contemporary culture. At Page-Turner, a look at how cognitive language and our notion of attention affects the way we think about fiction and music, with particular reference to On Beauty by Zadie Smith and Orfeo by Richard Powers.
For those of you who ask, like Jacob Lambert, whether picture books are leading our children astray, the Independent posts ten of the bloodiest bedtime stories.
Who’s ready for a trip to Tokyo? Sadie Stein at The Paris Review breaks the lid on a veritable Shangri-La for book lovers, a quasi-bunkhouse known as Book and Bed. Book and Bed is a bunkhouse-slash-bookstore that doesn’t actually sell books. Instead, they have a number of rather spartan beds built inside row after row of bookshelves. Their noble goal is also a simple one; to offer “an experience shared by everyone at least once: the blissful instant of falling asleep while reading.”