Are you writing a novel about an escaped tiger? (They’re quite popular these days.) Well, if you hope to win the Booker prize, you’d increase your odds by 1,300% if you switched your theme to “death.”
Out this week: A Good Family by Erik Fassnacht; Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb; A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan; You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman; The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick; and a limited edition of Neil Gaiman’s The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
When asked about his tenure as a professor of creative writing, Harry Crews used to say, "I may be at the university, but I damn sure ain’t of the university." But in talking to his former students, Crews's biographer, Ted Geltner, found that in spite of the writer's efforts to distance himself from academia, he really was a passionate, memorable teacher. (Bonus: Yours truly named one Crews work his "most representative" Florida book.)
In the 1880s, a group of rural Illinoisans formed a Christian sect that believed that a local woman, Dorinda Beekman, was the new Jesus Christ. When Mrs. Beekman died, a follower of hers claimed that her spirit lived inside him; as the new leader of the sect, he moved his followers into a barn and named it Heaven. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Visel looks back on this odd chapter of history, as well as the novel it inspired. (Related: Eric Shonkwiler on the literature of the Midwest.)
It’s that time of year again, readers. It's time to stock up on gossip, skim through pieces on your favorite writers and populate your bookmarks with pages from Ladbrokes and Intrade. It's time, in other words, to prognosticate the Nobel Prize winner, which Ladbrokes predicts will be the novelist Haruki Murakami. If you read Ben Dooley's review of 1Q84, you might have placed your bets already.
The brief excerpt of The Late American Novel that appeared in the New York Times Magazine this past weekend was also the first appearance of "A Tiny New Culture Section With No Name," part of the Magazine's redesign. At the Magazine's "behind-the-scenes" blog, Editor Adam Sternbergh talks about the tiny new section and has some very nice things to say about The Late American Novel as well.
“It all adds up to a fascinating portrait-of-the-artist-on-the-make in the booming 1950s. And it makes you wish the stories were better.” Year-in-Reading alum Jess Walter reviews a new (911-page) collection of stories by Kurt Vonnegut. See also: “2 B R 0 2 B”, a “lost” Vonnegut story that first appeared in the sci-fi journal Worlds of If in January 1962.