“Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings charts “the wide, weird world of geography” in his latest book Maphead. NPR investigates his process in a “Fresh Air” interview. Scribner Books provides a small sample as well. While discussing the particulars of America’s “Road Geeks,” Jennings makes it clear to this listener that he’d probably be interested in Cynthia Enloe and Joni Seager’s The Real State of America Atlas, which was reviewed by our own Bill Morris last July.
New this week: Orfeo by Richard Powers; Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates; Boy in the Twilight by Yu Hua; What We’ve Lost is Nothing by Rachel Louise Snyder; and His Day is Done by Maya Angelou. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Cheryl Strayed’s collection of “Dear Sugar” columns is out this week (read our review). Also out are Our Kind of People by Uzodinma Iweala, The Investigation by Philippe Claudel, True Believers by Kurt Andersen, and The Absolutist by John Boyne. The new edition of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms with all the extra endings is out, as is (just in time for the Olympics) an oral history of the original Dream Team. Donald Ray Pollack’s The Devil All the Time is out in paperback.
If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” As Herrick writes, “Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.
Ben Parker has published a review in The Los Angeles Review of Books of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book Four, which was recently translated by Don Bartlett. Read Knausgaard’s thoughts on repetition and its reflections in the natural world at The Millions.