In a big week for new releases, we have Lev Grossman’s The Magician King, the sequel to his blockbuster debut The Magicians; Nicholson Baker’s House of Holes, reviewed here today; another new Geoff Dyer book, The Missing of the Somme; DBC Pierre’s Lights Out in Wonderland; and Kevin Wilson’s debut novel The Family Fang (which one blurber calls The Royal Tenenbaums meets Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf). Four of the five books above, incidentally, were featured in our big second-half preview. And out in a paperback this week are a pair of award winners: Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies and David Grossman’s To the End of the Land.
Not caught up on the emerging Hermione/Ron scandal? Here’s a recap: a few days ago, J.K. Rowling not only said in an interview conducted by Emma Watson that she regretted pairing up Harry Potter’s best friends, she also said that Harry and Hermione should have ended up together. “[Pairing Hermione and Ron] was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility,” she said. “Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.” (This might be a good time to revisit Michelle Dean on the series.)
As a child, Xiaolu Guo hunted birds and toads to survive. Now, as a writer in Britain, she’s written a memoir about her difficult childhood, which you can read more about in this review in The New Statesman. Sample quote: “Perhaps it is no coincidence that the reason that Guo gives for deciding to write in English is to be free of Chinese government censorship, a process that she describes as the wearing down of a rock’s sharp edges to a smooth pebble.”
“When I want to be ambushed, captured, thrust into a strange and vivid world, and tossed aloft until I cannot stand it, until everything is at stake and life feels almost unbearably vivid, I do something simple. I read short stories.” Electric Literature has posted Ben Marcus‘s “paean to the contemporary American short story,” which doubles as the introduction to New American Stories and does a pretty good job of capturing just what it is we love about reading fiction.
Following up their publication of Charles Portis’s “Motel Life, Lower Reaches” online, the Oxford American brings us a speech in verse by Jay Jennings, the editor of a recent compilation of Portis’s work (which our own Bill Morris reviewed). Jennings delivered an ode to Portis to mark the author winning the Porter Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. Sample quote: “But you read the next book because the main character was from Little Rock,/and you knew no other book where the main character was from Little Rock/and you wanted to write a book about Little Rock.”