Equal parts voyeuristically indulgent and unapologetically stimulating, Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books is the second installment in Yale University Press’s ongoing series, a journey into the personal libraries of thirteen favorite authors. This installment? Alison Bechdel, Stephen Carter, Junot Díaz, Rebecca Goldstein, and more.
New this week: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, and three newly translated books from by Icelandic author Sjón: The Blue Fox, The Whispering Muse, and From the Mouth of the Whale. New in paperback is The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers.
Francis Spufford’s fictionalized book Red Plenty looks to the 1950s-1960s “cybernetics” initiative to answer one of the main questions about the USSR: “Could the Soviet project to build communism have succeeded, or was it doomed to failure from the start?” In his review for The Hoover Institution, Marshall Poe contends the latter.
“The idea is to bring about a change in lifestyle of the young denizens of the city.” The Times of India reports that the Bhopal Runners Association is converting old parks around the city into green reading spaces with seating, wi-fi, and literary events. Less bookcentric but still a feat of public planning (and gentrification): New York City’s High Line, which our own Michael Borne wrote about when it first opened.
There are book tours and then there are book tours. You either get the full-scale, all-expenses-paid treatment from your publisher, or else you get a request to plan it all and pay for it all yourself. In the weeks after his latest novel came out, our own Bill Morris set off on a DIY tour — all driving, no flying — about which he’s been writing dispatches for The Daily Beast. This week, he thinks about the changing nature of book promotion, recounts his nights in dumpy motels and compares his experience to that of our own Edan Lepucki. (FYI, they talked about writing their novels in a Millions piece.)
An international group of forensic experts studying the poet Pablo Neruda‘s remains, which were ordered exhumed in 2013, says he didn’t die of cancer, as the Nobel laureate’s official cause of death states. The question remains: was he poisoned? And if you want to see how Neruda lived, perhaps you might enjoy this tour of writers’ houses.