Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers (which our own Mark O’Connell reviewed last October), expected Harry Mathews’ novel The Journalist to be a “terrible flop,” but soon found it was “every bit as great as Mathews’ more celebrated novels.”
"There’s no doubt that Life A User’s Manual takes an approach to depicting reality that is very different from the standard realist novel, which we have been conditioned to believe is the best and most-preferred way of representing our world...Though not without its enlightening aspects, this conversation has generally fallen into a simplistic dichotomy, where realist writing is described as giving us the real world of everyday life, and anything other than realist writing is seen as directing its energies toward a vague something that no one cares to define very well." A look at Oulipo and its legacy from Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, who recently wrote an Oulipo-themed Year in Reading for us.
The latest effort from superstar translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky: Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago is now on shelves. P & V's The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories is in our Hall of Fame, and we interviewed the couple last year. Also out: Mark Twain's long-embargoed Autobiography is now shipping; V.S. Naipaul's The Masque of Africa; X'ed Out by graphic novel master Charles Burns; Avi Steinburg's literary memoir Running the Books: Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian; and the odd literary project that is James Franco has a new collection out, Palo Alto
After three years of judging, and now "like one of those guys who comes back after graduation and loiters creepily around campus, remembering [his] faded glory days," our site's editor-in-chief C. Max Magee finally made it into the booth for the zombie round in The Morning News' Tournament of Books. Check out the perils of "the ARC onslaught" and which books were missing from the tournament altogether.
Wikipedia Find of the Week: A list of films that most frequently use the word "fuck."
Recommended Viewing: 1958 footage of the unveiling of Moscow's six-meter high monument to Vladimir Mayakovsky. And while you're at it, read his poem, "An Extraordinary Adventure Which Befell Vladimir Mayakovksy In A Summer Cottage," which features one of the best closing lines in literature.