Another posthumously published Roberto Bolaño novel has arrived, The Third Reich. Time to update our Bolaño Syllabus again? Also posthumously published is Michael Crichton’s Micro, which was a third finished when he died and was completed using Crichton’s notes by Richard Preston. Also new this week is Stephen Sondheim’s Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011).
Aspiring writers who’ve long dreamed of critical acclaim will no doubt be slightly miffed at Tana French’s admission that her writing “happened by accident.” As the former actress explains to The Guardian, writing In the Woods was a subconscious, almost involuntary experience: “I thought I could never write a proper book, I’d never done it before. But I thought I could write a sequence. Then I had a chapter.”
“It suddenly went off: ‘Oh, fuck, I’m going to try it as a novel, aren’t I?’ A terrifying realization because John Lennon is such an iconic figure—and the feeling I get out around there, this kind of eeriness, this kind of strange haunted reverberation. I mean, the fuckin’ Atlantic is a really weird thing to grow up right beside.” Millions staff writer Bill Morris sat down with Kevin Barry to talk about his new book, Beatlebone, and about the trouble of getting John Lennon’s voice right on the page. Morris has brought you a bit on Barry in the past.
“Our Aesthetic Categories, though, argues on behalf of aesthetic experiences that aren’t quite so awe-inspiring or rare. Sitting before your computers or walking the streets of your town, you don’t encounter beautiful things as frequently as you do interesting, momentarily arresting ones—and as for the sublime, when was the last time you experienced catharsis? Instead, [Sianne] Ngai considers our ‘minor’ aesthetic experiences, the ones that make up our day.” In the era of adorkable and nerd chic, Slate looks at Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting.
Everyone’s been there: the bookstore event at which the reader drones on and on. The Observer shares some reading horror stories (and a few successes). Sarah McNally of NYC’s McNally Jackson bookstore says, “The traditional reading format is broken.”