The sound level of a typical quiet bedroom measures 30 decibels, but what if you still can’t concentrate on your reading? Well, maybe you should move to Minneapolis and use Steven Orfield’s “anechoic chamber,” which at -9 decibels is officially the quietest room in the world.
Out this week: Marlena by Julie Buntin; American War by Omar El Akkad; What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah; Kingdom of the Young by Edie Meidav; No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts; and Living in the Weather of the World by Richard Bausch. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
In an interview with America Magazine, Pope Francis admits that the authors he most admires are Fyodor Dostoevsky, Johann Hölderlin, The Betrothed author Alessandro Manzoni, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. He also goes on to share an interesting anecdote about his compatriot Jorge Luis Borges: “In the end I decided to send Borges two stories written by [the secondary school] boys [I was teaching]. I knew his secretary, who had been my piano teacher. And Borges liked those stories very much. And then he set out to write the introduction to a collection of these writings.”
Several recent novels — among them Dave Eggers’s The Circle and Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge –tackle the effects of social media on our world. The latest, Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen, may be the best of the bunch, writes Andrew Hulktrans. At Bookforum, he explains why Cohen’s depiction of an app-saturated world is unparalleled. You could also read Jonathan Frederick Post on Cohen’s novel Witz.
Geoff Dyer is fond of taking potshots at literary academics. He devotes considerable time in one of his novels to a professor whose speech at a conference goes off the rails. Which is why it’s odd that, in mid-July, the author showed up at a conference devoted to — what else? — his own work. (It’s apropos to point out here that our own Mark O’Connell wrote a great essay for Slate about Dyer.)