One of the biggest literary releases of the year is out today, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. Read the book’s opening here. Another literary heavy hitter out today is The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst. One of Albanian writer Ismail Kadare’s masterpieces, The Palace of Dreams, is now back in print in English, and Blake Butler’s memoir Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia is now on shelves.
“To me a book is not just a particular file. It’s connected with personhood. Books are really, really hard to write. They represent a kind of a summit of grappling with what one really has to say. And what I’m concerned with is when Silicon Valley looks at books, they often think of them as really differently as just data points that you can mush together. They’re divorcing books from their role in personhood.” Digital pioneer and theorist Jaron Lanier fears that the Internet might be destroying not just literature, but also the middle class.
This essay by Mensah Demary for Electric Literature on Nas and the literary legitimacy of hip-hop is the best thing you’ll read this morning. “Nas is a world-class storyteller and practitioner of the narrative form,” Demary writes, “I don’t understand why there isn’t more discussion around hip-hop’s literary value among today’s millennial-and-boomer intelligentsia.”
HBO turned down the television adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, despite an all-star crew: Franzen himself adapted the novel to television, Noah Baumbach promised to direct the series, and Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal were cast as leads. Novelist A-J Aronstein can now breath a sigh of relief; they won’t be filming The Corrections at anyone’s house.
This Sunday, come out to the KGB Bar and meet The Millions! A pile of staffers including C. Max Magee, Garth Risk Hallberg, Emily St. John Mandel, Sonya Chung, and yours truly will be there, and a good number of them will be reading their work. The event even ends by nine, so you can rush home to see Mad Men.
How can we not link to this? Mickey Hess creates a mock-Millions essay in refashioning Cathy Day’s essay about “the novel problem” in MFA programs as “The Light-Bulb Filament Problem: 7 Thoughts on Academia’s Sheet Metal Crisis.” Clever response to the ongoing MFA debate or just plain silly?
Even those who detest the sport can feel the joys of reading Roger Angell’s baseball writing. Case in point: his latest dispatch, in which he remarks on a recent triple play by saying, “What’s great about [triple plays] isn’t really their scarcity but the fact that they beautifully illustrate the invisible force that hovers about each pitch and play and inning and game in this pausing, staccato, and inexorably accruing pastime: the laws of chance.”
“Our culture claims to celebrate vigor and well-being, yet holds up steroid-addled men and impossibly thin women as models of physical perfection. Those of us unwilling to juice or starve ourselves are left feeling inadequate and confused about why we do not bear any resemblance to the humans we are meant to emulate.” Michael Ian Black reviews two books about the male physique — and reveals a bit about the unrealistic nature of our cultural expectations.