I would like to nominate Sam Anderson’s riff on Roland Barthes’s Mythologies for the best lede ever. I would also like to order a tee shirt for a faux boy band composed of Lacan, Derrida, Barthes and Foucault.
Recommended Reading: Anne Barngrover's poem "My Lover Vows to Follow Me Even after He Leaves Me" at Paper Darts. "If trust is to hem your promises/into my jacket lining like folded dollars during/an ice storm, then I have been trusting all my life."
In the introduction to her interview with the author, the inimitable Parul Sehgal described Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest novel, Americanah, as “a thrilling and risky piece of writing that takes on taboos, shatters pieties, and combines forthright prose, subversive humor, and a ripping good story.” If that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.
Out this week: Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams; Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan; Pond by Claire Louise-Bennett; Break in Case of Emergency by Jessica Winter; The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock; Miss Jane by Brad Watson; The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon; and The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
Harper Lee’s estate will no longer allow publication of the mass-market paperback edition of To Kill a Mockingbird, which was popular with schools. Over at The New Republic, Alex Shephard writes that “Without a mass-market option, schools will likely be forced to pay higher prices for bulk orders of the trade paperback edition—and given the perilous state of many school budgets, that could very easily lead to it being assigned in fewer schools.” For more about the author’s legacy, read Robert Rea’s Millions essay on his travels to her home.
Don’t Cry author Mary Gaitskill reviews Gillian Flynn’s wildly successful thriller, Gone Girl, for the pages of Bookforum. What she finds is that the book isn’t really frightening because of its plot per se, but rather because its two main characters “do not resemble actual people so much as grotesquely smiling masks driven by forces of extreme artifice, and it’s exactly that extreme artificial quality that’s frightening to the point of sickening.” For what it’s worth, Edan Lepucki, Michael Bourne, Ed Park, Janet Potter, and Jennifer duBois each named Flynn’s book in their most recent Year in Reading pieces.
Margaret Wise Brown was nothing if not an interesting figure. The Goodnight Moon author, whose life is the subject of a new biography, loved hunting, partying and staging stunts, among them founding a club that claimed they could reschedule Christmas. She kept homes in Greenwich Village and a tiny island off Maine. At Slate, Laura Miller reads the new book by Amy Gary. You could also read our own Jacob Lambert's critical review of kid's picture books.