It’s a big week for new books. Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke is now out, as is Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy, Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge, and The Funny Man by John Warner, who recently appeared in these pages. Philip Roth’s American Trilogy is getting the Library of America treatment. (Capsule previews of all of the preceding titles are available here, incidentally). New in non-fiction is Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin. And out in paperback: none other than Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just released almost 400,000 high-resolution digital images of its collections. Among them are thousands of illustrations from bygone days when "picture books" were not for children alone. Pair with Buzz Poole's reviews of contemporary works of visual literature in The Millions archives, from hand-drawn self-help quotes to politically-charged images of transit in Tehran.
April Bernard is not a fan of Writers' Houses because she does not believe the "private life, even of the dead, is ours to plunder." Earlier this year, our own Luke Epplin also noted some of the limitations of Writers' Houses.
Year in Reading alumna Porochista Khakpour has a stunning new story in Bennington Review. She writes, “I had made a point of trying to learn the names of everyone in my department, after my previous department chair at my last VAP job advised ‘best way to make a best impression is know every name of professor and student alike.’” For more of her writing, check out her Millions piece on George Saunders.
Recommended Reading: Hannah Rose-Woods on totalitarianism in the wizarding world.