Courtney Traub talks with Kevin Begos, Jr, publisher of Agrippa, a Book of the Dead, a 1992 book that contains an encrypted poem by William Gibson set to self-erase after a single reading. Begos explains his intentions when creating the book, and Traub recounts the difficulties Oxford recently had when deciding how to archive a work that deliberately resists preservation. Gibson’s newest book, Distrust That Particular Flavor, made our list of the most anticipated releases of 2012. Also don’t forget to read our review of Gibson’s 2010 novel, Zero History.
Out this week: Between Them by Richard Ford; No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal; The Leavers by Lisa Ko; The Dinner Party by Joshua Ferris; My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul; One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul; Season of Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim; Homing Instincts by Sarah Menkedick; and a new edition of Chinua Achebe's African Trilogy. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
There are all kinds of arguments for reading the canon (Italo Calvino's come to mind) but why should we spend time reading untested contemporary authors? Tim Parks tackles this question, with a little help from Virginia Woolf, for The New York Review of Book's blog, and his argument pairs well with Guy Patrick Cunningham's Millions essay on reading the classics.
Nicole Chung interviews Amy Tan about her new memoir Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir, one of the highlights is when Tan ponders being one of the 'first' authors that people name/read when they think of Asian-American literature. "But when ["The Joy Luck Club"] came out, it did feel like there were many expectations from all areas — not just in the Asian American community, but in Asian culture itself, and in any ethnic studies community. There were people who said 'At last!' and there were people who said 'How dare she?' [...] I wanted to say: I’m not writing sociology, it just so happens this is what happened in my own family."