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 worst thing about owning your own bookstore? According to Garrison Keillor, it’s that “you do not get a 10 percent discount when you buy books. I don’t know why. It was explained to me once, and I didn’t understand. I mean, I’m the owner, right? But no, that’s not how it’s done.”
Most of our discussions about changing the canon revolve around adding onetime marginalized writers. But there’s a flipside to this — who do we need to eject? In a Bookends column for the Times, James Parker and Francine Prose pick greats that are no longer great.
Ashwin Sanghi first published his book, The Rozabal Line, on Lulu.com under the anagram Shawn Haigins. A revised edition of the book was published by Westland Ltd. & Tranquebar Press much later, and garnered controversy with readers pointing out similarities between its plot and the 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai. Sanghi’s response? “Any book based on research could have real life commonalities.”
Monologuist Mike Daisey was once devoted to Apple products. Then, one day, he “started to think, and that’s always a problem for any religion.” He began to question how his favorite products were put together, so he traveled to China with hopes of finding out. What he saw was shocking. If you own an Apple device (which I’m betting you do), you need to listen to this episode of This American Life.