Picador’s Gabrielle Gantz is holding monthly conversations with bloggers, and she posts the results on the publishing house’s fantastic Tumblr. Here she interviews Aidan Flax-Clark, associate editor of Lapham’s Quarterly, and gets him to discuss the similarities between his research and The Matrix.
Over the course of a half-century, Vladimir Nabokov wrote hundreds of letters to his wife Vera, which are being published in book form this week for the first time. Among other things, they reveal the absurd pet names he invented for her (such as Goosykins and Monkeykins) and display Nabokov musing over whether or not to borrow a friend’s castle for the summer. Also worth reading: our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
The novel might not be dead, but some independent bookstores are struggling to stay alive. Last week, we reported that America's oldest LGBT bookstore, Giovanni’s Room, is closing soon. Now, America's oldest black bookstore, Marcus Books, has received an eviction notice. The 54-year-old bookstore is a mainstay of San Francisco's African American Fillmore District but hasn't been able to pay its rent for a while.
A pair of debuts are making waves this week. Amy Waldman's The Submission ponders an alternate present in which a Muslim man is the anonymous winner of the search for a design to build the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero. Ernest Kline's Player One is a "genre-busting," pop culture-infused take on the virtual reality future that awaits us.
Pacific Standards profiles Ken Layne who quietly started the popular quarterly literary magazine, Desert Oracle for a town of 8,000 people. Now it has gained far more readers than that as it highlights works related to the American desert. "The reason that the Oracle works is that it's always trying to elicit that feeling, the awe and wonder that the desert reveals to you when you listen hard enough. Layne believes it's not an accident that religious awakenings, UFO sightings, walkabouts, and other revelations occur in the desert. It's a consequence of solitude, stark beauty, and the tenacious life that only the desert has."