Dwight Garner, writing in the current issue of The New York Times Magazine, laments that so many high-end American novelists seem to be working on “the nine-year plan,” delivering a new novel roughly once a decade. He cites Jeffrey Eugenides, who will be out soon with The Marriage Plot, his third novel in 18 years, along with such slow cookers as Jonathan Franzen, Donna Tartt and Michael Chabon. One name Garner neglected to mention is the Pulitzer Prize-winner William Kennedy, who will be out next month with Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, the eighth installment in his Albany cycle and his first novel since Roscoe appeared nine years and nine months ago. Look for our review of it here next month.
Last February, everyone was talking about Lawrence Wright‘s epic New Yorker profile of Paul Haggis and The Church of Scientology. But now, as The New York Times reports, the Church has released Freedom, a 51-page retaliatory glossy with DVD accompaniment.
Recent Year in Reading alum Rebecca Makkai writes about the difference between publishing your first book and your second book for Ploughshares. Let’s just say it’s the difference between champagne and “all the whiskey.” Pair with Zhanna Slor‘s Millions interview with Makkai in which they discuss that second book, The Hundred-Year House.
Led by Millions Top Tenner The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, dystopia is unseating vampires as the dominant theme in teen fiction, according to The Independent. The paper lists several other examples of the hot new trend, including Plague by Michael Grant and Matched by Ally Condie. (We’d argue that with dystopian classics like 1984 and Lord of the Flies on teen reading lists for decades, this is an old trend that’s new again.)
Year in Reading alumna and New York Times Book Review editor Parul Sehgal writes about her childhood reading habits. Millions readers should take a keen interest in this write-up for a couple reasons: 1) it’s awesome; and 2) the other half of her “we” is our associate editor, Ujala Sehgal.
Walter White is the new Walt Whitman. “Both are intellectual pioneers in their fields, their legacies—centuries apart—demanding risk, casting them outside of society, gliding out into the world, liberated from societal constraints,” Kera Bolonik writes about Whitman’s influence on Breaking Bad.
Dispirited by the deluge of advance review copies and publishing mailers (a plight to which I can relate), Ron Charles decided to forego traditional book criticism for the time being and instead to focus on reviewing something more immediately practical: a bookcase.
Last week, we discussed how Teju Cole has mastered literary Twitter, and that was before we knew that he tweeted a 4,000-word essay on immigration. “A Piece of the Wall” is composed of 250 tweets written during a seven-hour period and starts with: “I hear the sound of faint bells in the distance. It is like a sound in a dream, or the jingling at the beginning of a Christmas song.”