Calling a book “the spiritual prequel to The Road” is a great way to signal its command of dystopian tropes. It’s what Gabe Durham wrote about Maxwell Neely-Cohen’s recent YA novel Echo of the Boom. At The Rumpus, Durham interviews Neely-Cohen, who describes how he tried to give a metafictional bent to the novel. Related: we asked high school students to pick their favorite YA books of 2013.
New this week are Anita Desai's The Artist of Disappearance and P.D. James' Pride and Prejudice sequel Death Comes to Pemberly. Joseph Gordon-Levitt hangs up his acting duds to put out The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1, and, speaking of tiny stories, there's Lou Beach's 420 Characters: "these crystalline miniature stories began as Facebook status updates." On the nonfiction side, there's Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller.
What happens when two magazine writers publish stories on the same topic within a month of each other? We get to read some of the best long-form journalism of the year. Both Esquire's Chris Jones and The Washingtonian's Garrett M. Graff wrote about what it was like to be on Air Force One after the Kennedy assassination. Jones' "The Flight From Dallas" hits 7,600 words, but Graff's "Angel is Airborne" totals 18,000. Save some time to read both because they're equally gripping and uniquely told narratives.
There's been a lot of talk about women breaking into traditionally male fields and hobbies, but in a blog post at The Missouri Review Caitlin Rosberg laments the continued underrepresentation of female characters and creatives in comic books. She then explores the work she's doing to improve the situation by publishing women writers and artists in works like the Ladies' Night Anthology. As she says, "I’m motivated in no small part by being able to say to those 'make your own' strawmen, 'I do. I’m an editor contributing to published comic books. Are you?'"
Over the course of a half-century, Vladimir Nabokov wrote hundreds of letters to his wife Vera, which are being published in book form this week for the first time. Among other things, they reveal the absurd pet names he invented for her (such as Goosykins and Monkeykins) and display Nabokov musing over whether or not to borrow a friend’s castle for the summer. Also worth reading: our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.